Newcastle United humble 10 man Sheffield United at St James Park
Newcastle United 3-0 Sheffield United
Football was back with a bang this afternoon at SJP as Newcastle United took all three points against a good Sheffield United side to do the double over the Blades.
A goal from the outstanding Allan Saint-Maximin, seizing on a crazy mistake from Stevens, put the Magpies ahead moments after John Egan had been sent off for the Blades for a second yellow card early in the second half.
Against 10 men Newcastle made Sheffield pay again on 69 minutes. This time Ritchie finding the space after smart play from Hayden to fire home from outside the box with a lovely finish.
The third goal was as much a relief as a celebration. Joelinton doing brilliantly in the build up to feed Almiron who returned the favour for the big Brazilian to hammer home for his first and Newcastle’s third.
A game in front of an empty St James Park, but for a few staff, officials and camera crews, was the scene of Newcastle United against Sheffield United in the Premier League.
Some 113 days following our last outing today was the chance to move to within 2 points of the magic 40 point mark, could they overcome the team from the Steel City who’d been denied a win over Aston Villa by some incredible incompetence and failure in technology just 4 days earlier in a game that finished 0-0 at Villa Park.
For Newcastle it was a chance to welcome back a number of stars to the squad too, after the lengthy layoff. Ritchie fighting his way back into the starting line-up, whilst there was also a places on the bench for Andy Carroll and Muto.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose, Hayden, Shelvey (Schar, 85), Ritchie (Yedlin, 92), Almiron (Almiron, 85), Saint-Maximin (Bentaleb, 79), Joelinton (Carroll, 79)
The first half saw the Blades start with a succession of early dangerous set pieces come to little with United’s back line holding firm.
Newcastle’s first big chance came from some great work from Saint-Maximin who ghosted into the box but his cross was eventually scrabbled clear. Moments later a long range effort from Ritchie would also sting the palms of Henderson in the Sheffield goal as he pushed the shot wide.
Encouraging signs after a slow start.
On 15 minutes Joelinton had a wonderful chance to show that perhaps playing without the crowd would help his lack of confidence. However, after being played clean through by Almiron his effort was like something the kid who’s last to be picked for the school football team would manage after the school bully insisted he be allowed to take a penalty for the team. Ground, ball, legs all over… Easy for the keeper.
Decent claims for a Newcastle penalty were waved away on the half hour mark when Almiron looked to clearly have his shirt pulled when racing clear into the box. Neither the referee nor VAR interested.
0-0 at the break then, the Joelinton chance being the stand out moment for either side.
A huge opportunity for Newcastle to take control of this one arrived just 3 minutes into the second half, when after beating his man in a 50/50 Joelinton was pulled back by the already booked John Egan when trying to race clear. The referee quickly brandishing a second yellow that would see Egan sent off.
And it wouldn’t take long for the home side to capitalise.
When Almiron picked up the ball on about his own half way line he ran against the Sheffield back line giving the Magpies a 3 on 3. His ball to Ritchie allowed a low cross should have been easily cleared by Stevens, but when the defender only managed an air shot the ball fell beautifully at the feet of Saint-Maximin who fired in low and hard past Henderson’s feet.
And moments after Sharp could have nicked one back for the visitors after missing their best chance of the game in the form of a clear header, Almiron should have wrapped things up.
Another great move my Allan Saint-Maximin saw him muscle his way into the box and cut one back to Miggy who really only had to put his foot through it, but instead only managed to find the chest of the keeper. Huge chance gone.
Newcastle’s second was a stunner. Some calm play from Hayden when under pressure on the half way line gave him time to switch play to Ritchie and create an overload on the left. With Rose charging up the line the Sheffield defence had to sit off Ritchie and that provided him the space to unleash a pearler, curling past Henderson into the keepers bottom right corner.
2-0 and cruising.
All we needed was a goal for Joelinton now.
Oh, go on then...
And to be fair the goal as all about the big man. Wining the ball against his marker and feeding Almiron on the left, the Paraguay International then returned the favour finding Joelinton unmarked to slam home from 4 yards out.