Sheffield United have booked their spot in the 5th round of the FA Cup, defeating Millwall at The Den on Saturday afternoon.
An even affair early on, the Blades would eventually break the deadlock near the hour mark, as Muhamed Bešić curled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area.
They would make it two through Oliver Norwood, who drilled a low shot into the side netting to secure their spot in the next round of the competition.
Story of the match
The first chance of the contest was created by the Blades. Some good play down the wing led to a cross being hit towards the top of the box that picked out Muhamed Bešić, who tried to hit a first time volley. It came close, but flew just wide of the target.
Millwall should have scored mere moments later, however, as Aiden O’Brien snuck in behind the United defence. The forward did well to cut back inside to make space, but made a mess of the finish, hitting it straight at the goalkeeper.
Billy Sharp thought he had opened the scoring midway through the first half, rounding the keeper and hitting a shot towards goal. He would be denied by some excellent defending, however, as James Brown got back to make the goal line clearance.
It would take an hour, but the Blades did eventually take the lead courtesy of a moment of magic from Bešić. Flying forward on the counter, the Bosnian international cut inside near the edge of the area before curling a shot into the top corner with his weaker left foot. There might have been a slight deflection, but that shouldn’t take any credit away from Bešić, who did incredibly well to break the deadlock.
Millwall put up a tough fight, and came close to snatching an equalizer late on. However, it would be United who found the back of the net once again, putting the tie to bed in the process. Billy Sharp did well to hold the ball before finding Oliver Norwood, who drilled a low shot into the bottom corner to secure the Blades spot in the 5th round.
Sheffield United take it seriously
Some Premier League clubs still don’t care much about the FA Cup at this stage, but that cannot be said for the Blades and boss Chris Wilder.
While not naming a full first choice lineup, there were plenty of starters out on the pitch for United. Dean Henderson got the nod in goal, while Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell came in at the back. There were more changes further up the pitch, but Oliver Norwood and Muhamed Bešić both featured from the start as well.
The Blades always play with a high intensity, and that didn’t change much for today’s contest. They did struggle to deal with the poor pitch at times, but they certainly tried to play their game, and eventually did just that.
Their efforts would be rewarded, as United managed to book their spot in the 5th round. It was tough, but they just had that bit more quality than Millwall on the night, showing why they’re now in the Premier League.
There’s still plenty of work left to do in the competition, but Blades fans can certainly start dreaming of a deep FA Cup run.
They will be disappointed to have lost on the afternoon, but Millwall fans can still take pride in the fact that their team put up a strong showing against one of the Premier League’s best teams.
They just lacked that killer instinct, as the game would have been completely different if the home side managed to take their chances. O’Brien really should have given his side the lead early on, but couldn’t compose himself, hitting a weak shot that was easily dealt with.
Millwall also responded well after conceding, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. That would end up costing them, as United were simply more clinical going forward.
Now, Millwall must turn their attention back to the Championship, where they are only two points away from a playoff spot. If they can squeak back in before the end of the season, then they’ll certainly like their chances of securing promotion back to the Premier League after today’s performance.
Man of the Match: Muhamed Bešić
Muhamed Bešić was moments away from being subbed off. John Lundstram was warmed up and ready to come on, and it seemed United’s number 27 would be the one to make way the next time the ball went out of play.
However, that all changed when Bešić decided to give United the lead courtesy of a superb goal. Lundstram sat back down, and the goalscorer was allowed to stay on the pitch, going on to play the full 90.
After not getting chances in the team to start the season, fans were beginning to worry that Bešić’s loan deal would be cut short.
He’s gotten more minutes in recent weeks, and has been improving as a result. Starting home and away to Manchester City showed Wilder had faith in the player, and that was paid off earlier today by his match-winning performance.
Football is about moments, and Bešić’s moment of magic might be the spark that kickstarts the rest of his season at Bramall Lane.