‘We were blown away by a very, very good Sheffield United team’ admits Villa boss Steve Bruce

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Steve Bruce, the Aston Villa manager, admits his side were ‘blown away’ by a ‘very, very good Sheffield United team’ at Bramall Lane this afternoon.

Goals by Jack O'Connell, Oliver Norwood, Mark Duffy and Billy Sharp saw the Blades win 4-1 and claim their fourth consecutive win to go third in the Championship.

Anwar El Ghazi scored a consolation for Villa, who have now taken just three points from four games and whose fans were as shell-shocked as the team after a one-sided first 45 minutes.

The Blades took an early lead when O'Connell headed home Norwood's free-kick on his 100th start for the club in the sixth minute.

Duffy doubled the lead with a 25-yard strike after getting the better of John McGinn in a battle on halfway in the 23rd minute.

Norwood had been influential all half and he scored his first goal for the club since his move from Brighton four minutes before the break when his free-kick caught out Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland at his near post.

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce

Captain Sharp made it four in the 49th minute after turning on Kieron Freeman's ball into the box and curling home.

El Ghazi pulled one back for Villa in the 61st minute, slotting home after some neat play - but it was little consolation for the visitors.

And Villa boss Bruce, a former manager of United, said: "My reaction is one of disappointment and frustration, the first half in particular.

"It's obviously one of those awful afternoons that sometimes you get and you analyse.

"The first half - and the first half-hour in particular - I had warned them over the last 48 hours how Sheffield come out of the blocks.

"Basically we haven't done the basics to give us a platform.

"Four or five of them to be fair to them got off the treatment table yesterday and haven't trained all week and looked like that.

"We didn't see that coming but if you don't do the basics well enough then you get punished and against a very, very good Sheffield team in the first half they blew us away.

"Ultimately I pick them and the buck stops with me but most of them were nowhere near good enough for what is required to win a game at this level."