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Match Report ~ Fulham beat Sheffield United ~ Prem MD25 20/21

last updated Sunday 21st February 2021, 9:51 AM

Match Report

Fulham (0) 1-0 (0) Sheffield United

Premier League Match Day 25 2021 at Craven Cottage

Saturday 20th February 2021    KO: 20:00

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)

Live on Sky Sports

Winger Ademola Lookman
Ademola Lookman
Ademola Lookman
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Cometh the hour, cometh Ademola Lookman. After 60 minutes of struggling to beat a Sheffield United side that came here to defend deep, Fulham won their must-win match.

Lookman – the winger on loan from RB Leipzig – drilled the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and suddenly, Fulham are within touching distance of Steve Bruce’s Newcastle.

Bruce reacted to Scott Parker’s confident talk of surviving by reminding him that Fulham had won once in their last 14 matches. Now they’ve won twice in three games.

Maybe now Bruce will admit he’s starting to get nervous. The gap was ten points, then six, then three, if Newcastle cannot avoid defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

This relegation race is shaping up nicely and could possibly go down to the final day. Fulham’s last game of the season, you ask? Newcastle, at Craven Cottage.

Sadly for Chris Wilder, whose side surprised and entertained us last season, it looks like the Premier League badges on their sleeves will soon be replaced by EFL ones.

Many feel the race against relegation is between two teams – Fulham and Newcastle. It is up to the Premier League’s bottom side to drag themselves back into the debate.

Match Stats Fulham Sheff Utd
Goals (0) 1 0 (0)
Scorers Lookman 61
Goal attempts 15 4
On target 6 2
Shooting Accuracy 40% 50%
Possession 65% 35%
Passes Success 83% 66%
Corners 6 4
Tackles Success 57% 55%
Saves 2 4
Fouls 11 14
Offsides 1 3
Yellows 1 2
Reds 0 0
source: SkySports
When out of possession – and they went without the ball for long periods – Wilder’s players formed a compact back five. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was seeing plenty of the ball in the No 10 position but with so many bodies blocking his route to goal, Fulham struggled to get into the box.

They started trying their luck from distance instead. One low drive from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa zipped narrowly wide, before Loftus-Cheek fired a hit-and-hope shot over.

After half hour the statistics said the visitors – a side made up of all British and Irish players – had not managed a single shot, on or off target. With zero service, strikers Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie had spent the game standing by the halfway line watching Fulham keep the ball.

Wilder made a tactical tweak, telling Ethan Ampadu – the 20-year-old Wales international on loan from Chelsea – to move from defence into midfield.

United started to see more of the ball but still didn’t manage a shot in the first half, which ended with Loftus-Cheek meeting a corner and heading over.

The visitors had not even managed a touch of the ball in the Fulham box in the opening 45 minutes. If this was a relegation cup final, United were fortunate that it remained 0-0.

Parker walked towards the tunnel speaking to referee Martin Atkinson. He felt Wilder’s side had spent the half kicking his players, and yet the game’s only booking had gone to Anguissa.

Neither manager made a change at half time and the match followed a similar theme. Fulham tried their best to find a way through, and United tried their best to stop them.

Yet within five minutes of the restart, defender Chris Basham had to be replaced after picking up a problem. Ampadu returned to the right of the back three as a result.

In the 53rd minute, Loftus-Cheek and his long limbs danced their way through United’s defence. He got his shot away – but George Baldock got back on the line to clear.

In the 55th minute we saw something rare – a touch in the opposition box by United. Sharp couldn’t keep his header down and the offside flag was raised regardless.

After an hour, the deadlock was broken, and it went to the team that had been knocking on the door. Joachim Andersen drove a long ball into Lookman, who barged his way beyond Ampadu before beating Aaron Ramsdale.

Wilder’s men would have to start to push further up the pitch and they had their first shot on target in the 65th minute. Enda Stevens tried to copy Lookman in trying to nutmeg Alphonse Areola, but Fulham’s goalkeeper kept his legs closed.

A very big win for Parker's Fulham, and a painful defeat for Wilder's United.

Fulham manager Scott Parker: "We set a challenge to the boys tonight to not get swallowed up. To worry about ourselves and put in a performance where we showed our quality. I think we did that. We showed our quality.

"Like all these games it took one moment to win the game and it came from Ademola and he found the net.

"I'm really proud of this team because it's a huge moment. Not just this game but this week. It's been massive. We all understand what we need to do. We need results more than performances, but I felt like we got both tonight.

"We need to rest now; we've had a tough week. We'll get back to it on Monday ready to push again. It's a tough league. We understand that. All we need to do is focus on us. That's all we've done this season. When we've had our little dip, we've focused on us. We're a young team who are growing fast. I have big belief in this team."

On staying up: "That's the aim. We've been in this position for a while now. We're comfortable with where we are, we know the projections we're on. Let's try and rack up some wins and put pressure on the other teams. That's the main focus."

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: "There wasn't a lot in it, and it was decided by a little bit of quality. We had opportunities to get back into the game and didn't take them. And then we had a ridiculous VAR decision.

"I thought it was a reckless challenge from the Fulham goalkeeper. It's a penalty. To be honest I'm more grateful that there wasn't an injury because it was a reckless challenge. Yes, I'm clutching a bit, but it was a penalty all day long. No question from me. I am completely seeing a different game. The stills and watching it in slow motion, how does VAR not see that? I don't care if he's being brave or whatever. It was a ridiculous challenge. Another fine margin has cost us.

"These are big experiences we're all going through. This is a difficult position for all of us. There's always something to play for. I won't accept relegation until it happens. And even then, I still won't accept it.

"I can't mug everybody off by saying we're going to have a miraculous recovery. I won't allow it [to happen] to our supporters. It looks like next season we'll be in the Championship."

SkySports Man of the match - Ademola Lookman
Ademola Lookman was Fulham's hero once again as he scored what could prove to be a crucial goal in his side's bid for survival.

He has now been directly involved in more Premier League goals than any other Fulham player this season (four goals and three assists).

He has also scored four goals in 22 Premier League appearances this season - only in 2017-18 (five in 11 Bundesliga appearances) has he netted more in a top-flight campaign.

In the game tonight Lookman had, 69 touches, 4 in the opposition box, completed 33/39 passes, won 8/16 duels, 3 chances created, 3 shots, 2 on target and scored his 4th PL goal this season.

Fulham: Areola, Aina, Andersen, Tosin, Robinson, Reed, Anguissa, Cavaleiro (Tete 78), Loftus-Cheek, Lookman (De Cordova Reid 90+2), Maja ((Lemina 86).

Unused substitutes: Radak, Hector, Odoi, Ream, Bryan, Onomah.

Lookman 61(Andersen clips the ball over the top of Ampadu and Lookman is onto it in a flash. He then cuts back inside Ampadu, who makes a poor attempt at a tackle, before drilling the ball through the legs of Ramsdale.)

Booked: Anguissa (45+2,f),

Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Baldock, Stevens, Jagielka, (Bogle 80), Basham (Norwood 51), Lundstram (McGoldrick 74), Fleck, Ampadu, Bryan, Sharp, McBurnie.

Unused substitutes: Foderingham, Lowe, Burke, Osborn, Brewster, Brunt.

Booked: Baldock (79,f), McGoldrick(90+1,f)

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 0

Source Kieran Gill at Mailonline/SkySports
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