SHEFFIELD UNITED 0 SOUTHAMPTON 1: Saints hold firm to secure precious three points at Bramall Lane
MOUSSA DJENEPO was the master of the Southampton ship as they sunk Sheffield United. A week after their team-bonding trip racing boats on the Solent, this was far from plain sailing for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s crew. But the Blades defence was all at sea trying to stop Djenepo, who steered the Saints through choppy waters with […]
MOUSSA DJENEPO was the master of the Southampton ship as they sunk Sheffield United.
A week after their team-bonding trip racing boats on the Solent, this was far from plain sailing for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s crew.
But the Blades defence was all at sea trying to stop Djenepo, who steered the Saints through choppy waters with another stunning goal.
This was the Mali man’s first Premier League start and the second time he has scored for Southampton since his £15million summer arrival from Standard Liege.
Djenepo’s first goal came three weeks ago, when he bent in from 20 yards just 78 seconds after coming on as a sub in the victory at Brighton.
And this 66th-minute strike was just as special.
The 21-year-old managed to shrug off Ollie Norwood, who was climbing all over him, with ref Lee Mason playing advantage.
And he then showed a stunning turn of pace to race past centre-halves John Egan and Jack O’Connell and fire past Dean Henderson.
It was a bitter blow for the Blades, who saw a goal chalked off by VAR seven minutes after the break.
Oli McBurnie had turned in Norwood’s free-kick but Egan, who had missed the ball, was offside when the cross came in.
And United suffered more misery late on when Billy Sharp was sent off for clattering Stuart Armstrong with a studs-up tackle.
This was the worst day Chris Wilder’s side have endured since their Premier League return.
Yet they should still be able to take heart from an attacking performance which saw them register 17 shots, even if only four tested Saints ‘keeper Angus Gunn.
The Blades have five points from five games but have now been leapfrogged by Southampton, who climb up to tenth.
This ended up being a hard-fought win for the visitors but they almost opened the scoring after just 12 minutes.
Southampton forward Che Adams received a few jeers on his return to the club who plucked him out of non-league five years ago.
But he almost silenced the boo-boys as he smacked a crisp 18-yard volley against the right post with Henderson well beaten.
After that reprieve, the Blades had their own golden chance to score seconds later as McBurnie slipped in his strike partner David McGoldrick with just ‘keeper Gunn to beat.
Yet McGoldrick tamely struck straight at the legs of the England-youth international, who had raced off his line to narrow the angle.
Adams came close again when he headed down James Ward-Prowse’s centre, only for Henderson to make a stunning one-handed diving stop with the ball almost behind him.
The on-loan Manchester United stopper was “desperately disappointed” not to have been called up to England’s senior squad in the international break, according to Blades boss Wilder.
Well, this was the perfect response – and a save which would surely have made Gareth Southgate take note.
Henderson was called into further action from Sofiane Boufal when Djenepo evaded two tackles and picked out his Moroccan teammate.
It was amazing that it was still goalless at half-time, and when the ball did finally find the back of the net after the break, it did not count.
Bramall Lane was rocking when Norwood curled in a free-kick from the right and McBurnie turned in at the back post after John Egan’s air shot.
But when VAR checked the goal, they found Egan was offside and McBurnie’s strike was correctly chalked off.
The Blades tried to regroup from that setback with Adams testing Henderson from range.
Yet Djenepo had other ideas for Southampton with his stunning solo effort.
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VAR was called into action again to check a potential penalty for the home side, but it deemed Jan Bednarek’s handball to be accidental.
Gunn then got down low to boot away McGoldrick’s close-range effort, before the Blades frontman then blazed over.
Sub Sharp saw red just 20 minutes after coming on for a dangerous tackle on Saints replacement Armstrong to cap a bad day for the Blades.
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