Aston Villa and Sheffield United played out a 0-0 draw on Premier League return from coronavirus pandemic.
Aston Villa and Sheffield United played out a low-key goalless draw as the Premier League made its return after a 100-day absence in a match memorable for powerful statements before kick-off – and a major technology controversy.
As the action resumed behind closed doors at a largely deserted Villa Park, the players of both sides and officials took a knee for 10 seconds immediately before kick-off in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
When the game got underway in this new environment, Sheffield United were the victims of serious first-half injustice when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland fell behind his goal-line clutching Oliver Norwood’s free-kick in the 41st minute, only for referee Michael Oliver’s watch to fail to signal a goal.
It was the pivotal moment of an affair high on endeavor but low on the quality that at least represented the success of ‘Project Restart’ after the season was halted because of the global coronavirus crisis, bringing a result that was arguably more satisfactory for The Blades than Villa.
Villa – who were thwarted by some fine saves from Sheffield United keeper Dean Henderson – will feel an opportunity has been missed, while a point for The Blades leaves them four points from Chelsea in fourth place.
There was, at least, a sense of relief that domestic football was finally up and running once more.