Billy Sharp's penalty gave Sheffield United their first victory of the Premier League season in their 18th game as they beat 10-man Newcastle at Bramall Lane.
The spot-kick was awarded after referee Andy Madley checked the video footage and judged that Federico Fernandez, who was tussling with Sharp in the area, had pushed the ball with his hand.
The veteran striker sent Karl Darlow the wrong way to bring up his 100th goal for the club.
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Fellow substitute Rhian Brewster almost made it two with a deflected effort five minutes from time but it came back off the post, before Jayden Bogle's errant backpass sent Aaron Ramsdale scambling to stop what would have been the cruellest of equalisers six minutes into injury time.
David McGoldrick gets away from DeAndre Yedlin
Image credit: Getty Images
The Blades' task was made easier by Ryan Fraser receiving two yellow cards in the space of three minutes before the interval, but the hosts had dominated the first half just as much when the game was on even terms.
The win brings Chris Wilder's side within nine points of fourth-bottom Brighton, while Newcastle in 15th are eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Talking point – It is not over for the Blades
Most of the time a 17-time winless run to start the season would spell almost certain relegation, but such is the paucity of the three teams in front of them that the Blades’ first-tier status for 2021/22 cannot be completely ruled out.
They are just nine points adrift of Brighton, who have not won in nine games.
It will take a lot, but the Blades showed tonight they still believe in Chris Wilder’s system and if they take the risk of bringing in a player of quality to play final balls in the final third (and maybe finish them off too in an ideal world) they could pull off what seems impossible.
That said, they might need to pick up some points from their next three games against Tottenham and both Manchester sides.
Man of the match: Ethan Ampadu
The on-loan Chelsea star just looked a class above the rest of the players on display.
First of all he defended superbly, on the rare occasions Newcastle attacked, but he also looked the classiest in possession too.
He had a 90% passing success but these were not typical centre-back passes and when he got the opportunity to get into the last third his passes were incisive and one cross from the left flank should have been converted by David McGoldrick.
The hosts created less in the second half before Sharp's goal and it was partly because switching to two centre-backs meant Ampadu could not press forward as much.
SheffieldUnited: Ramsdale 7, Basham 6, Egan 6, Ampadu 8*, Bogle 7, Lundstram 6, Norwood 6, Fleck 6, Osborn 7, McGoldrick 6, Burke 6.
Subs: Sharp 7 Brewster 7, Jagielka 6.
NewcastleUnited: Darlow 7, Yedlin 7, Clark 6, Fernandez 6, Schar 6, Dummett 7, Hendrick 6, Hayden 6, Longstaff 6, Fraser 4, Wilson 6.
Subs: Ritchie 6, Carroll 5, Murphy 6.
45’ RED CARD! Fraser is sent off after a slightly late challenge on McGoldrick, who swan-dived to be fair. Just three minutes after his first booking. It looked a bit harsh but a silly tackle.
72’ PENALTY! The referee saw enough from the footage to give a spot kick. It did look on the replay that Fernandez swiped the ball away looking down.
73’ GOAL! Sharp sends Darlow the wrong way and puts the Blades in front.
85’ Brewster hits the post! Another decent effort from the substitute. Once more turning at pace like the late, great Cyrille Regis, this time just 30 yards from goal and his effort is deflected against the woodwork.
90+6' So close! Bogle almost sent the ball past Ramsdale for an own goal! Ramsdale had to run backwards and scramble it behind for a corner.
14 – Billy Sharp becomes the 14th Blade to reach 100 goals. The first since Keith Edwards in 1984.
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