Why Sheffield United will have mixed feelings after their defeat at Man City

When Gabriel Jesus scooped home beyond Aaron Ramsdale less than 10 minutes into the game, Chris Wilder’s reaction said it all.

Saturday, 30th January 2021, 5:16 pm

As the ball nestled in the back of Sheffield United’s net, their manager looked towards the sky and unleashed a torrent of expletives. His reaction was understandable.

The goal was wholly preventable. The fact it was the only one Manchester City claimed all afternoon, and that John Fleck came so close to snatching an equaliser before a flurry of late chances for the hosts, will only serve to heighten United’s sense of disappointment.

Although, when that subsides, they will take some encouragement from the final scoreline as the Premier League leaders secured their 12th straight win in all competitions.

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As you would expect of a team so laden with talent Pep Guardiola was able to leave Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Joao Cancelo on the bench, City dominated both territory and possession throughout. But they created little in terms of genuine clear cut chances until the closing stages, which will only heighten the sense of frustration the visitors will feel at the manner in which they conceded during the opening exchanges.

A series of errors were responsible for gifting Jesus with his first Premier League strike since November’s draw with Liverpool. The hopeful ball responsible for setting the move in motion should have been comfortably dealt with but wasn’t.

Then, when Ferran Torres seized possession, United had at least three opportunities to halt his progress. But after skipping through a series of half hearted challenges, the former Valencia winger was left with the simple task of sliding a short, square ball to his colleague. Jesus, already capped 41 times by Brazil despite being only 23 years of age, simply could not miss.

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City scoring against Sheffield United during today's Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester: Darren Staples/Sportimage

You feared the worst for United at that point. But, disciplined and committed when they had to be, the visitors were able to stay in the contest until the closing stages.

Rhian Brewster saw a shot comfortably saved by Ederson and John Fleck blazed over the crossbar from distance at the beginning of the second period.

Ramsdale, who could do nothing to prevent Jesus from scoring, made two superb saves to deny first Oleksandr Zinchenko and then Aymeric Laporte from the resulting corner.

United, who remain at the foot of the table and 10 points adrift of safety, were inches away from drawing level when substitute Billy Sharp chested the ball into John Fleck’s pass but his shot flew just wide.

Chris Wilder and Pep Guardiola: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Gundogan, Jesus, Zinchenko, Laporte, Silva, Torres (Rodrigo 90), Fernandinho, Foden. Not used: Steffen, Stones, Sterling, Mendy, Mahrez, Cancelo, Garcia, Bernabe.

Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham (McBurnie 78), Egan, Ampadu, Baldock, Bogle, Norwood, Fleck, Lundstram, Burke (Sharp 78), Brewster (McGoldrick 61). Not used: Foderingham, Mousset, Loew, Jagielka, Bryan, Gordon.

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire). VAR: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

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Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City tussles with John Lundstram of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage