West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Sheffield United: Gallagher goal gives Baggies first win of the season
(Photo by Andrew Boyers - Pool/Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion won their first game of the season after beating Sheffield United 1-0 at The Hawthorns on Saturday evening.

Conor Gallagher’s first goal for the Baggies was enough to seal the win and sink Chris Wilder's side, who have now lost five games in a row and remain the only winless side in the Premier League.

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Despite a late push for an equaliser, the Blades couldn’t find a response, with the hosts climbing out of the relegation zone after picking up the three points.

Story of the match

The game began electrically with Oliver Burke finding himself through on goal only 30 seconds in. However, the Scotsman couldn’t keep his balance and scuffed his shot.

Sheffield United continued their early pressure and had a number of great chances within the first ten minutes.

John Fleck’s driven effort went just wide of the post and then after a superb run from Burke down the left, George Baldock drilled a powerful shot towards goal but Conor Townsend was there to block in front of a diving Sam Johnstone.

West Brom started poorly and found themselves lucky to not be a goal down early on. This would change after the ten-minute mark when the momentum completely switched.

Kyle Bartley couldn’t keep his effort down from a Matheus Pereira cross and then Pereira was involved again as he played through Karlan Grant with a brilliant cross-field ball, but his shot was saved well by Aaron Ramsdale.

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This improvement from the Baggies led to the opening goal of the game. Pereira’s whipped corner was poorly headed clear by Sander Berge, with the ball falling to the feet of Gallagher who was free on the edge of the box.

Gallagher calmly slotted the ball through the crowded penalty area and into the bottom right corner to give the home side the lead with his first goal for the club.

Johnstone was forced to make an acrobatic save as Sheffield United looked for a way back into the game. Kean Bryan, who was making his Premier League debut, used his ‘overlapping centre-back’ role to his advantage and found himself on the left-wing, brilliantly finding Burke in the area, but his flicked header was superbly tipped over by the West Brom goalkeeper.

Before the break, the Baggies had plenty of chances to double their lead. Pereira had a shot from the edge of the area go just wide of Ramsdale’s post and the Blades goalkeeper was called into action again soon after as he saved Grant’s shot from close range.

After half time, West Brom continued to look the better side with Bartley causing problems again from a set-piece. The centre-back’s bouncing header was saved well by Ramsdale to deny a second for the Baggies.

Gallagher also had a chance to grab a second goal when Pereira laid him in for a strike but his effort was blocked. The Brazilian playmaker, who was constantly involved in the build-up could have had a goal himself but his free-kick was flicked over the bar by the wall.

Baldock then had the best chance of the game for Sheffield United. The right wing-back somehow missed the target from five yards after being slotted in by Burke in the area.

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In the final stages, the Blades hugely improved and pushed for an equaliser. Oli McBurnie should have leveled it on two occasions but both times he was denied by Johnstone. The Scottish striker had a close-range shot saved and then he should have done better as he found himself in space but he disappointed with a tame left-footed effort.

Wilder’s side continued to press for an equaliser and they should have had one through Lys Mousset. The returning Frenchman somehow scooped his shot over the bar from two yards out, summing up the away side's luck this season. 

Man of the Match - Sam Johnstone

Johnstone was brilliant throughout the game and helped to keep his side in the lead as Sheffield United pushed for a late equaliser.

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His commanding voice led the defence in front of him and they stayed solid when needed. If the Blades did make it past the defenders, Johnstone was superb and made a number of high quality saves.

In the final stages, the West Brom goalkeeper stepped up and denied McBurnie twice from close range. Johnstone’s overall performance was well deserving of man of the match.

Takeaways

Matheus Pereira is key for West Brom

The Brazilian made everything tick on Saturday evening and was involved in almost all the Baggies’ chances.

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Pereira’s trickery and skill helped to get his side out of crowded areas and set off many quick counter-attacks throughout the game.

Slaven Bilic’s side have only scored seven times this season and hadn’t scored in their last three games before this one. If they want to be scoring more and increasing their hopes of staying up, utilising Pereira will be key.

Oliver Burke should be starting more

Burke proved to Wilder on Saturday evening that he can and should start more for Sheffield United. The striker was involved on plenty of occasions and used his pace and power to fashion multiple chances.

He was a key part of the Blades attack, linking up with McBurnie and the midfield behind him well. Burke has struggled to cement his place so far since joining the club from West Brom but despite the result, this performance should put him in good stead for a starting spot.

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