Sheffield United 0-1 Everton: Blades' hopes of European football suffer blow after defeat at home to Everton
(Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Sheffield United’s hopes of qualifying for European football in their first season back in the Premier League suffered a huge blow after losing 1-0 at home to Everton

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was denied by the woodwork towards the end of a fairly uneventful first-half as he headed Theo Walcott’s cross against the upright. 

The Blues took the lead just under a minute into the second-half when Richarlison guided Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross into the far corner of the net. 

The Brazilian’s second-half strike proved decisive to earn Everton their first win in five games and move up to 11th in the table. Meanwhile, the Blades now sit two points outside of the top seven and qualification for Europe is now out of their hands.

Story of the game

Chris Wilder’s side were going into the game having won their previous four games at home and needed a victory to keep their European hopes alive - the Blades named an unchanged starting line-up after losing to Leicester City

Both sides settled into the game quickly and showed their intent from the start, but it was the home side that created the first opening in the 14th minute. 

Oliver Norwood’s deep free-kick had Jordan Pickford scrambling back to the far post to push the ball wide for a corner. United’s midfielder took the resulting corner, whipping it to the back post and just out of the reach of Jack O’Connell

Some intricate football from the Blues saw Sigurdsson dissect the Blades back line on 20 minutes. Theo Walcott raced into the box, down the right side, but his low cross evaded Richarlison, who was racing into the back post. 

Embed from Getty Images

Chances were few and far between until late in the first-half. Sigurdsson’s corner was pushed out to the right side as far Walcott, who cross to the back post and Calvert-Lewin headed down and was denied by the upright.

Carlo Ancelotti would’ve been the happier of the two managers at the break. His side produced the perfect response to whatever was said at the interval by scoring 56 seconds into the second-half. 

Sigurdsson whipped a free-kick into the box, and Richarlison got ahead of the Blades defender to use the pace of the cross and guide the ball across goal and into the far corner of the net. 

The Blades looked to respond to going behind early in the second-half, but it was Ancelotti’s side, who threatened to go further ahead just before the hour mark. 

Calvert-Lewin turned away from his marker and drove into the penalty area, but his effort was deflected and saved by Dean Henderson.

Embed from Getty Images

The home side continued to look threatening going forward in search of an equaliser, but it was Everton, who went close on two occasions around the 80-minute mark.

Calvert-Lewin slipped the ball through to Walcott, who crossed low and was unable to pick out Richarlison at the back post. Just under a minute later, Andre Gomes had Henderson worried in the United goal, but his effort went inches wide of the post.

The Blades didn't offer much in the way of chances in the second-half, but right at the end of additional time, space opened up in front of McGoldrick, who struck high over the crossbar.

Man of the Match: Gylfi Sigurddson

There's been plenty of questions asked about the Everton midfield in recent matches, but the Iceland international stood out at Bramall Lane with a top performance. It was a performance that was much-needed from the Blues in general after poor form of late, but Sigurdsson led the way with a terrific display in midfield.

What's next for both teams?

Blades suffer first loss in five games at home

Although the Blades can still mathematically qualify for next seasons Europa League, it is now out of their hands after the defeat at home. They are two points behind Wolves, who play later tonight and a win against Crystal Palace will end United's hopes.

Everton bounce back with important three points

The Blues looked a completely different side to the one that struggled at home to Aston Villa last Thursday. They looked more compact in the midfield and were threatening going forward, especially in the second-half. Ancelotti will be pleased with the performance and will want to finish the season with a win on Sunday against relegation-threatened Bournemouth.