Billy Sharp the saviour again for Sheffield United against Fulham as his late penalty cancels out Ademola Lookman’s strike as both sides register their first points of the Premier League season
- Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a penalty early in the second-half for Fulham
- The visitors still took the lead in the 77th minute through Ademola Lookman
- But Sheffield United nicked a point late on via a penalty from Billy Sharp
- It means both sides recorded their first points of the Premier League season
After 42 games and 160 goals, it looked like the first 0-0 of this unusual Premier League season was upon us when Aleksandar Mitrovic skied a penalty into the empty stand.
Then late drama took hold at Bramall Lane. First, Ademola Lookman scored a goal that was so individual, the Fulham winger might want to ask the authorities for the assist, too.
But it was not to be the winner, with VAR intervening in the 85th minute to award Sheffield United a penalty of their own. Stockley Park spied Mitrovic booting Jack Robinson as he attempted to clear the ball, and Billy Sharp showed the Serbian striker the proper way to take a spot-kick.
Billy Sharp celebrates his late penalty which salvaged a point for Sheffield United on Sunday
The substitute fired in the spot-kick to dash Fulham’s hopes of a first victory of the season
Andre Marriner gave the penalty after consulting with the Video Assistant Referee
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Ramsdale 6; Basham 6 (Sharp 81), Egan 6, Lowe 6 (Robinson 19, 6); Baldock 6, Lundstram 6, Berge 6.5, Norwood 6, Stevens 6; McBurnie 6, McGoldrick 6 (Brewster 64, 6)
Subs (not used): Burke, Verrips, Ampadu, Osborn
Scorers: Sharp (85 pen)
Manager: Chris Wilder 6
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Areola 6; Aina 6, Adarabioyo 6, Ream 6, Robinson 6; Cairney 6.5, Zambo Anguissa 7; Cavaleiro 6.5, Loftus-Cheek 7.5 (Lemina 81), Lookman 8; Mitrovic 5
Subs (not used): Kebano, Rodak, Reid, Le Marchand, Bryan, Kamara
Scorers: Lookman (77)
Booked: Zambo Anguissa, Cavaleiro
Manager: Scott Parker 6
Referee: Andre Marriner 6
Sharp, the experienced 34-year-old, leathered his shot beyond Alphonse Areola to ensure a point apiece was taken. With that, both Sheffield and Fulham are off the mark for the 2020-21 season.
‘This is sport and sometimes in sport, you have bad days,’ Fulham boss Scott Parker summarised afterwards when asked about Mitrovic. ‘He’s had a tough day.’
Supporters of these sides had not been given much incentive to pay £14.95 for this match, each having started the season with four successive Premier League losses.
A relegation six-pointer in October? That’s the way some were billing this before kick-off, possibly even Parker, who wants his players to understand the challenge they are facing.
‘Mixed emotions,’ said Blades boss Chris Wilder, whose side secured a top-10 finish last season but now face a scrap for survival. ‘There are no mug sides, no easy hits, no free hits where we say: “We’ll get our confidence back today.” It is a struggle at the moment. There was anxiety.’
Wilder was unfortunate when his debutant Max Lowe had to be replaced following an early clash with Ruben Loftus-Cheek which led to concussion. The 6ft 3in unit on loan from Chelsea, who is hoping to get noticed by England manager Gareth Southgate, put himself about here.
Despite Fulham controlling the ball, Sheffield enjoyed the better chances in the opening half hour.
They like testing teams from crosses, and one inviting ball saw Oli McBurnie head just wide. Another saw McBurnie force Areola into an acrobatic save from four yards.
Ademola Lookman scored the opening goal of the game with a brilliant solo effort
With no supporters inside Bramall Lane, the gasps from both benches – and subsequent cries of ‘for f***’s sake’ – could be heard clearly when Enda Stevens blasted a low ball through the six-yard box. Nobody in red and white was there to tap it in.
Sheffield then had the ball in the back of Fulham’s net – via the foot of Tosin Adarabioyo – but the assistant cut short the celebrations by raising his flag. VAR checked and confirmed Sander Berge was offside in the build-up, saving Adarabioyo the indignity of an own goal.
Before the hour mark, Fulham were given a glorious chance to score from the spot. Unlike a few handballs we’ve seen this season, there was nothing controversial about this one. A cross was heading for Loftus-Cheek until Robinson intervened with his arm in the air, as unnatural as it gets.
Lookman, on loan from RB Leipzig, thought he nicked the points but there was to be late drama
Mitrovic stepped up to take it – and blasted the ball over. If a goalkeeper saves a spot-kick, that can be forgiven. If a striker cannot even get his shot on target, that’s criminal.
But those Fulham fans who had parted with £14.95 were celebrating moments later when Lookman scored a solo goal of the highest order. With the ball at his feet, he bundled his way beyond Berge then Chris Basham before blasting his shot beyond Ramsdale for 1-0.
But the drama was not done there. In the 84th minute, Areola came out to collect a cross but spilled it. Mitrovic tried to clear but instead of booting the ball, he kicked Robinson.
Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic blazed over a penalty earlier on in the second half
The Fulham number nine could barely believe it after he squandered a golden opportunity
Referee Andre Marriner visited his pitch-side monitor and, after several replays, pointed to the spot. Sharp showed Mitrovic how it’s done by blasting beyond Areola.
Sharp grabbed the ball and sprinted back to the centre circle. Sheffield’s £23.5million club record signing Rhian Brewster was now on the pitch, too, as Wilder urged his players to find a winner.
Mitrovic came closest to atoning for a poor performance but could not get that all-important goal. At least Sheffield and Fulham aren’t stranded on zero points anymore.
Mitrovic was the villain again as he was adjudged to have fouled Jack Robinson late on
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