Sheffield United 3-0 Blackburn Rovers: Oliver Norwood’s stunning strike spearheads the Blades’ charge to the top of the Championship after comfortable victory over Rovers
Sheffield United stormed to the top of the Championship with two beauties and a bum deal to beat Blackburn.
Oliver Norwood’s brilliant free kick gave the dominant Blades a first half lead before sub Iliman Ndiaye inadvertently knocked in the second with his backside and then capped the win with a brilliant solo run and finish.
The only dark cloud on a glorious day for Blades fans as their side dominated erstwhile top team Rovers – who slumped to their second consecutive defeat – was that the incredible goal curse on striker Oli McBurnie somehow continued.
Substitute Iliman Ndiaye netted a cool brace in Sheffield United’s 3-0 victory over Blackburn
The Blades soar to the top of the Championship after their comfortable victory at Bramall Lane
The gangling front man has not scored a league goal since he bagged in the Premier League game at Leicester in December 2020, a run of 41 league appearances.
McBurnie’s jinx is so bad that he cannot even claim a deserved assist for sub Iliman Ndiaye’s killer second goal on 73 minutes. He did all the donkey work, holding off a fierce challenge and pulling the ball back for Sander Berge, whose shot deflected off Ndiaye’s backside.
The fact that McBurnie’s teammates ran to him to celebrate shows how much they are feeling his hurt and appreciate his contribution, while he received a standing ovation from the home fans for his work rate and hold-up play, if not his finishing, when subbed off close to the end.
Oliver Norwood is embraced by his team-mates after his stunning free kick in the opening half
SHEFFIELD UTD (3-4-1-2): Foderingham 6; Ahmedhodzic 6, Egan 7, Norrington-Davies 6; Baldock 6 (Basham), Norwood 8, Berge 5 (Doyle), Fleck 7, Lowe 7 – Khadra 6 (Ndiaye 7), McBurnie 6 (Brewster)
Subs not used: McAtee, Jebbison, Amissah.
Booked: Lowe, Ahmedhodzic
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom 7
BLACKBURN (3-4-1-2): Kaminski 7; Phillips 5 (Morton 5), Ayala 5, Pickering 5; Brittain 5, Travis 5, J Buckley 5, Edun 5; Szmodics 6 (Dolan 5); Brereton Diaz 5, Gallagher 5
Subs not used: Rankin-Costello, Pears, Markanday, Dack, Vale
Booked: Gallagher, Brereton Diaz
Manager: Jon Dahl Tomasson
Referee: Leigh Doughty 6.
Norwood masterminded a dominant Blades performance, sitting deep and prompting his team’s best work.
And he came up with an inspired goal on 31 minutes to reward his team’s superiority. John Fleck won a free kick with a driving run to the edge of the box and Norwood magnificently curled and dipped his shot over the defensive wall and beyond keeper Thomas Kaminski, rooted to the spot.
Norwood’s confidence was clearly coursing through his veins after that wonder strike as he fizzed another shot over the bar from 35 yards and even tried his luck from the second half re-start, hoping to catch Kaminski with the lowering sun in his eyes – the attempt drifted over.
McBurnie had seven chances, three of them one-on-ones with Kaminski, in which the keeper came out on top every time.
But the Blades were not to be denied and after Ndiaye’s unconventional rear-end finish, he came up with a solo stunner to make it three. Robbing Lewis Travis on halfway, he tricked his way past Harry Pickering, swerved past Daniel Ayala, and placed his shot in off the post.
For Rovers, just three days after their 100 per cent record was wrecked by the same scoreline at Reading, there was little joy.
They attempted a fightback early in the second half after manager Jon Dahl Tomasson abandoned his ploy of matching Sheffield’s three at the back, but Travis’ 30-yarder, which flashed past the post, was their only reasonable goal attempt.