The one (or two) we all wanted to see - David McGoldrick finds the net as Sheffield United batter Chelsea
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McGoldrick’s patience will be tested no longer as, at the 26th time of asking, he laid the foundations for a win which will make it increasingly difficult for manager Chris Wilder to play down the hosts’ prospects of securing a place in Europe next term.
United, who also saw Oli McBurnie find the back of Chelsea’s net before McGoldrick claimed his second of the evening, ended the contest sixth in the table with only three matches remaining. Although the visitors showed little of the attacking craft which had prompted Wilder to describe them as arguably the most free-flowing team in the division before kick-off, that was as much down to the focus, concentration and, when the opportunity presented itself, creativity of his own players as it was any lack of intensity on Chelsea’s part.
By the time McGoldrick pounced midway through the opening period, it had already become apparent that the tactics Wilder and his coaching staff had devised would prove difficult for opponents even of the Londoners’ supposed calibre to fathom. Chelsea passed. United pressed and, when they had the ball themselves, proved far more effective - ruthlessly exploiting some shambolic defending on the part of Andreas Christensen, Mason Mount and later Kurt Zouma, whose woeful attempt at a clearance presented McGoldrick with his second.
Ben Osborn, arguably the most impressive player on a pitch showcasing internationals from countries such as France, England and Brazil, was involved in the move which ended with McGoldrick clipping home from close range after Kepa Arrizabalaga had done well to save McBurnie’s deflected shot.
The former Nottingham Forest midfielder underlined his capabilities again when his exchange with Enda Stevens confused Chelsea’s rearguard and created the space for McBurnie to head home his 6th of the campaign.
Out-fought and, perhaps more impressively given United were only promoted last year, out-thought, Chelsea could have no complaints when McGoldrick struck again after the break; pouncing on Zouma’s clumsiness as he tried to deal with substitute Lys Mousset’s low cross.
The Frenchman should have stretched United’s lead even further during the closing stages but prodded wide after bursting through the middle and lifting the ball past the advancing Arrizabalaga.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham (Jagielka 69), Egan, O’Connell, Stevens, Baldock, Norwood, Osborn, Berge (Lundstram 62), McGoldrick, McBurnie (Mousser 62). Not used: Moore, Sharp, K Freeman, Robinson, Rodwell, Zivkovic.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Christensen (Rudiger 46). Zouma, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Mount (Alonso 46), Barkley, Willian, Pulisic (Giroud 66), Abraham. Not used: Caballero, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, Bate.
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands).