David McGoldrick broke his Premier League duck with two goals as Sheffield United dented Champions League-chasing Chelsea with a 3-0 victory at Bramall Lane.
McGoldrick benefitted from static Chelsea defending to end his 25-game wait for a top-flight goal with a close-range rebound after a Kepa Arrizabalaga save on 18 minutes.
Oli McBurnie’s clinical header punished more poor Chelsea defending on 33 minutes before the Blades secured another huge victory in their bid for European qualification when McGoldrick completed his double 13 minutes from time.
Sheffield United climb to sixth in the Premier League after a fourth consecutive home victory, while a dismal outing for third-place Chelsea could be compounded by victories for Leicester and Manchester United that will see the Blues drop as low as fifth come Monday.
Sheff Utd: Henderson (7), Basham (7), Egan (8), O’Connell (7), Baldock (7), Berge (7), Norwood (7), Osborn (7), Stevens (8), McBurnie (8), McGoldrick (9).
Subs: Lundstram (6), Jagielka (6), Mousset (6).
Chelsea: Kepa (5), James (6), Christensen (5), Zouma (5), Azpilicueta (5), Jorginho (5), Mount (4), Barkley (5), Willian (5), Pulisic (4), Abraham (5).
Subs: Rudiger (4), Alonso (5), Loftus-Cheek (5), Giroud (6), Hudson-Odoi (5).
Man of the Match: David McGoldrick
How brilliant Blades dented Chelsea charge
Sheffield United started with all the confidence of a side chasing their third straight home win since the restart but were given an early scare by the Premier League’s in-form player when Christian Pulisic headed wide from Reece James’ cross on seven minutes.
- David McGoldrick replaced Billy Sharp in Sheffield United’s only change from the win against Wolves.
- Tammy Abraham and Jorginho returned as Chelsea made two changes from the win at Crystal Palace.
It proved to be nothing more than a scare, with the Blades’ rigid defence laying the platform for increasingly encouraging attacks which culminated with the moment McGoldrick has been waiting for all season.
McBurnie’s heavily-deflected volley drew a stunning save Arrizabalaga, but the Spaniard could only claw the ball into the path of McGoldrick, who escaped the static Chelsea defence to open his top-flight account with his 42nd shot of the season.
Chelsea lacked penetration in attack, their response to falling behind was non-existent and they soon found themselves two down after more shambolic defending.
A simple one-two saw Enda Stevens evade Willian before his pinpoint cross found McBurnie unmarked in the six-yard box, and the Scotland international picked out the bottom corner with a clinical header.
James’ drive drew a fine save from Dean Henderson as the first half drew to a close but, with Chelsea unable to reduce the arrears, Frank Lampard turned to his bench as Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso were introduced at the break.
It took the introduction of Olivier Giroud on 66 minutes to finally kick Chelsea into gear, but their hopes of salvaging something from the game were soon extinguished.
A quick counter-attack saw McGoldrick send substitute Lys Mousset down the right and when Rudiger’s woeful clearance fell for McGoldrick, he rammed home an emphatic second as the Blades’ European dream gathered more pace.
McGoldrick: Goals mean the world
Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick told Sky Sports: “After the lockdown, the first couple of games we weren’t on the front foot and our usual selves. But since Arsenal in the FA Cup we have been on the front foot. 35 games in and the table doesn’t lie. That was us at our best today.
“I told the lads ‘don’t worry, when it comes, I will get a brace!’ I said in the press I wasn’t concerned. The goals were coming as I have had chances. I hope there is many more to come.
“It means the world. Made my debut at 16 and I made that dream to play in the Premier League. Now I have another dream of scoring.”
What the managers said…
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: “We were excellent, full value. We had to defend properly, the structure of the team was good, and we needed something going the other way, and we did.
“It’s been a tough schedule, and the quality of the teams we had at Bramall Lane needed turning over. I’m delighted we’ve turned Chelsea over.
“We’re into a rhythm, I’ve really enjoyed watching my team play because they always give me the maximum they’ve got. As a manager, that is all you can ask for.”
Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard: “They were better than us, physically, in the mind and with the ball. They were stronger than us. You feel and hear every noise and all I could hear was Sheffield United voices. They are a good team. If you come here and perform below par this is what will happen.
“You analyse all season and review and move forward. We need to put that to bed quickly and fight for the top four. I learned a lot and I won’t forget that. I am not concerned about top four today, today I am concerned with how we performed.”
Opta stats: Blades brilliant as Chelsea crumble
- Sheffield United have won four consecutive home top-flight matches for the first time since March 1991, when they had a run of six consecutive wins at Bramall Lane under Dave Bassett.
- Chelsea have lost 11 Premier League games this season, at least two more than any other team currently in the top-eight of the division and their most in a season since 2015-16 (12).
- Chelsea had 76% possession in this match but lost 3-0 – since 2003-04, this is the biggest margin of defeat for a team to hold as much as 76% possession in a Premier League game.
- Sheffield United registered their biggest victory over Chelsea since April 1967, when they also won 3-0 at home against the Blues in a top-flight meeting.
- This was Chelsea’s heaviest Premier League defeat since Frank Lampard’s first game in charge against Manchester United, when the Blues were beaten 4-0.
Man of the Match – David McGoldrick
Chelsea host relegated Norwich on Tuesday at 8.15pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League, before Sheffield United travel to Leicester on Thursday at 6pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.