Man Utd 4-2 Sheff Utd: Hosts fight back from behind twice to win

Manchester United players walk back to kick off after celebrating their fourth goal
Manchester United’s past five fixtures have produced a total of 27 goals

Manchester United’s chaotic high-scoring form continued at Old Trafford as they came from behind twice to overcome spirited Sheffield United at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes and Rasmus Hojlund struck in the final nine minutes to ensure the win.

Manchester United captain Fernandes followed up an excellent pinpoint 25-yard drive by hooking back the cross five minutes from time that allowed Hojlund to score his first goal since February.

As in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Coventry, it was a favourable outcome in the end for under-pressure manager Erik ten Hag.

But there are some staggering statistics to go with their recent results. In total, 27 goals have now been scored in their past five games. They have conceded and scored at least two in all of them.

In entertainment terms, it is sensational. However, there is zero sense of structure and it can only be wondered what new technical director Jason Wilcox made of it as he watched his first game in the Old Trafford directors’ box since his appointment was confirmed last week.

After railing against the media the day before the game, labelling coverage of the Coventry match “embarrassing” and “a disgrace”, Ten Hag’s team failed to follow up by convincing on the pitch.

Without a win since February and with only three in the league all season, Sheffield United led twice, through Jayden Bogle in the first half and Ben Brereton Diaz in the second.

The home side levelled each time, courtesy of Harry Maguire’s deft header and Fernandes’ penalty.

And Manchester United eventually claimed the points to move back into sixth spot.

Fernandes the saviour after Onana error

Bruno Fernandes slides on his knees at the corner flag to celebrate his second goal v Sheffield United
Bruno Fernandes created nine chances against Sheffield United – the most of any player on the pitch

Ten Hag has faced problems of injury and form among his squad in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Andre Onana, during the turbulence, had been a reliable figure.

The Cameroon goalkeeper seemed to have put his poor early-season form behind him. His recent performances had deserved credit, given he has been standing behind one of the Premier League’s leakiest-ever defences in terms of shots allowed to the opposition. A defence that cannot push high has not allowed him the exhibit his full passing range, but he had generally done well.

Against Sheffield United, though, Onana had a moment to forget. In passing the ball towards Diogo Dalot from inside his own six-yard area, the goalkeeper allowed Jayden Bogle to charge on to it. The 23-year-old’s forceful burst took him to within shooting range and he expertly drove his effort into the far corner.

On the touchline, Ten Hag looked a lonely figure.

The Sheffield United fans had some fun at the Dutchman’s expense, as they reminded him they rarely win away from home. To be completely accurate, they have rarely won anywhere this season. The last of their previous three triumphs came at Luton in February.

It is this kind of damage Manchester United cannot stop inflicting on themselves – and it makes winning matches so much harder than necessary.

Even after Maguire had turned home Alejandro Garnacho’s cross to bring them level before the break, they still fell asleep in their own penalty area to gift Sheffield United the lead for a second time.

Fernandes, with two goals and an assist, stepped in to save them. His second, a brilliant 25-yard drive, was the highlight – but the industry that created Hojlund’s goal was worthy of praise as well.

The overall display is not a recipe for sustained success, although after the past few weeks, Ten Hag is probably just grateful to get the win.

A positive night for Blades but still a defeat

Sheffield United players commiserate on the pitch at full time
Sheffield United have conceded 26 goals in their past eight games

In a season of almost unrelenting gloom at Bramall Lane, this represents one of the undoubted high points.

Back in September, the Blades led at Tottenham heading into injury time, but lost. In December, they drew at Aston Villa.

While they almost certainly won’t be back at Old Trafford in the Premier League next season, their supporters will have the memory of a spirited display, tinged with regret that their team could not hold their lead for more than a combined total of 16 minutes and eventually succumbed to Fernandes’ brilliance.

Not that is should come as any surprise. They have now conceded 92 goals, overtaking Derby’s previous record of 89 in a 38-game top flight season. The Premier League record of 100 – set by Swindon in a 42-game season in 1993-94, might yet be passed. They have now conceded 26 goals in their past eight games – and they do not have the class that would allow them to somehow overcome the weakness.

Chris Wilder’s side will be relegated if they lose at Newcastle on Saturday. A draw, and they would effectively still be down because of their vastly inferior goal difference. But whatever the result, the drop is inevitable anyway.

There were positives, chiefly a series of first-half saves from Wes Foderingham and a mature performance from young midfielder Oliver Arblaster, remarkably Sheffield United’s seventh captain of the season.

But their return to the Championship will soon be official. And they don’t really deserve any better.

Player of the match

HamerGustavo Hamer

Sheffield United

  1. Squad number8Player nameHamer

  2. Squad number18Player nameFoderingham

  3. Squad number20Player nameBogle

  4. Squad number24Player nameArblaster

  5. Squad number11Player nameBrereton

  6. Squad number10Player nameArcher

  7. Squad number35Player nameBrooks

  8. Squad number23Player nameOsborn

  9. Squad number15Player nameAhmedhodzic

  10. Squad number30Player nameHolgate

  11. Squad number5Player nameTrusty

  12. Squad number21Player nameVinicius Souza

  13. Squad number28Player nameMcAtee

  14. Squad number32Player nameOsula

  15. Squad number16Player nameNorwood


Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 24Onana
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 18Casemiro
  • 5Maguire
  • 20Dalot
  • 37MainooSubstituted forS Amrabatat 90+1′minutes
  • 14EriksenSubstituted forMcTominayat 64′minutes
  • 21AntonySubstituted forDialloat 55′minutes
  • 8Bruno Fernandes
  • 17Garnacho
  • 11HøjlundSubstituted forWheatleyat 90+1′minutes


  • 1Bayindir
  • 4S Amrabat
  • 16Diallo
  • 39McTominay
  • 62Forson
  • 70Amass
  • 75Ogunneye
  • 78Jackson
  • 84Wheatley

Sheff Utd

Formation 3-5-2

  • 18Foderingham
  • 30HolgateBooked at 37mins
  • 15Ahmedhodzic
  • 5Trusty
  • 20BogleSubstituted forNorwoodat 78′minutes
  • 8Hamer
  • 24Arblaster
  • 35BrooksSubstituted forde Souza Costaat 45′minutes
  • 23Osborn
  • 10ArcherSubstituted forMcAteeat 62′minutesSubstituted forOsulaat 87′minutes
  • 11Brereton


  • 13Grbic
  • 16Norwood
  • 21de Souza Costa
  • 25Ben Slimane
  • 27Larouci
  • 28McAtee
  • 29Curtis
  • 32Osula
  • 44Hampson

Michael Salisbury


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