Sheffield United 1-0 Wolves: John Egan seals dramatic late winner to keep Blades’ Champions League dream alive.
Chris Wilder celebrated last week’s home win over Spurs by drinking red wine until half-past four in the morning and this was a late show of a different kind to keep Sheffield United on course for Europe.
There were just 23 seconds remaining of a largely damp and drab affair when John Egan rose to head home from a corner, sending the Blades to within a point of Wolves and just four off a Champions League berth.
Until Egan’s injury-time intervention you suspected Wilder would be retiring to bed with a cup of tea before midnight.
Had the conditions not been more akin to January than July, you would have argued it had all the ingredients of a pre-season contest, at least in terms of goalmouth action.
But Egan rendered what had gone before academic as he towered highest to connect with Ollie Norwood’s delivery and score for the second time in five days.
The defeat is not terminal for Wolves, far from it. But two defeats on the spin have halted their momentum.
Both sides, though, remain in the hunt for continental football next season and, given they last met here in the Championship just three years ago, that is a tremendous credit to Wilder and opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo.
And if ever they needed further incentive to achieve European qualification then it is to escape this miserable weather. So drizzly and chilly was it inside Bramall Lane that your face mask doubled as a snood.
The football on the pitch did little to warm the body or soul. Wolves were true to their plan of making the first half of matches this season entirely forgettable.
This was the 29th time from 34 outings that Nuno’s side have failed to score before the interval. It is said that they sell half season-tickets to watch Wanderers. You wonder if there is a package that allows you to arrive at half-time, for a league table from the opening 45 minutes alone has a Wolves rock bottom.
In fairness, they did come closest to scoring before the break when Ruben Neves clipped the crossbar from a 25-yard free-kick, but Champions League contenders they were not.
The hosts weren’t too flash either and their best chance saw Oli McBurnie turn a header into the grateful palms of Rui Patricio, who barely had to move.
He remained unmoved for much of the second half as well. Home wing-back George Baldock headed wide from close range on 77 minutes and Ben Osborn’s deflected volley shaved the base of the post in stoppage-time.
That led to the corner from which Egan headed the winner and it said much that the effort was the first on target of the second half. Not that Wilder will care about that when he uncorks the red.