Sheffield United 2 – 2 Chelsea

Oli McBurnie scored an injury-time equaliser for relegation-threatened Sheffield United as Chelsea’s hopes of securing European football suffered a blow.

Mauricio Pochettino’s ninth-placed visitors were unable to maintain momentum following their dramatic last-gasp comeback win over Manchester United on Thursday.

Instead, just three days later, they fell victim to a late sucker-punch as McBurnie fired in from close range in the 93rd minute to earn a point for the Premier League’s bottom side.

Noni Madueke’s excellent finish midway through the second half – the England youth international cutting inside and curling an excellent finish past Ivo Grbic – had put Chelsea on course for victory.

The Blues took an 11th-minute lead when Thiago Silva was allowed to side-foot in Conor Gallagher’s corner unchallenged but Jayden Bogle beat Djordje Petrovic at his near post to bring the Blades level.

The increasing belief in Chris Wilder’s players was evident as the Bramall Lane crowd rallied behind their side – and they were rewarded for their persistence by a moment of celebration in an otherwise difficult season.

Sheffield United remain bottom of the table, nine points adrift of safety with 21 points still to fight for.

Another setback for inconsistent Chelsea

Chelsea’s recent fixtures have not been short on entertainment. Thursday night’s remarkable 4-3 win at Stamford Bridge saw the Blues become the first top-flight team since 1989 to both score and concede at least two goals in six consecutive games in all competitions.

They could not prevent that streak extending to a seventh match as they failed to hold out for the three points

Despite an inconsistent first season under Pochettino, in which they have managed to win successive league games on only two occasions, they maintain hopes of securing European football with eight games left to play and sixth-placed Manchester United five points ahead having played a game more.

That they are still in the mix is in no small part down to the stellar form of Cole Palmer, who continues to star for the Blues since a £42.5m move from Manchester City last summer.

The 21-year-old, a hat-trick hero in midweek, provided the assist for Madueke, taking his goal involvements for the season to 34 in 40 games in all competitions, with 25 coming from 27 league appearances.

He was once again central to Chelsea’s best play, driving forward, creating chances and going close when Grbic tipped his powerful effort over. With the Blues’ defence faltering, his importance in his side’s pursuit of Europe cannot be overstated.

McBurnie delivers late joy for Blades

An immediate return to the Championship may be looming for Sheffield United but, as they did in defeat by title-chasing Liverpool in midweek, they displayed ample character and fight against Chelsea to offer Chris Wilder optimism.

United failed to capitalise on a rare early chance when Ben Brereton Diaz had an attempt blocked by Moises Caicedo after McBurnie pounced on a loose pass by Silva.

The industrious Gustavo Hamer tested Petrovic from distance as the hosts gained a foothold in the contest and, after assisting Bogle, the former Coventry City midfielder unleashed a ferocious strike narrowly wide as United continued to put Chelsea under pressure.

McBurnie’s late strike provided what will feel a deserved outcome for those urging the home side on at Bramall Lane, supporters who have endured their fair share of difficult days on the club’s top-flight return.

Defence will be an obvious area of concern for Wilder looking ahead, as demonstrated by the complete lack of awareness as Silva moved freely into space to score Chelsea’s opener, and they have already set a Premier League record for most home goals conceded in a season (47).


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