Sheffield United 1-1 Fulham: Aleksandar Mitrovic has game to forget in draw

Aleksandar Mitrovic misses penalty then fouls Jack Robinson to hand Blades a late equaliser from Billy Sharp; both teams remain winless in the Premier League

Sunday 18 October 2020 14:58, UK

Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a penalty and then gave away one at the other end as Fulham and Sheffield United played out a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane.

Both teams came into this one under a cloud of nerves having not taken any points from any of their Premier League fixtures this season and Ademola Lookman’s fine strike 13 minutes from time seemed to have handed Scott Parker’s men victory.

However, Mitrovic, who had already blazed over a penalty (57), fouled Jack Robinson inside the area which was spotted by VAR and Billy Sharp fired home the equaliser from 12 yards (85).

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After being dominated in the opening 45 minutes, Fulham looked a huge threat late on and Mitrovic compounded his nightmare day by missing a glorious chance with the last kick of the game.

Sheffield United now face a tricky set of fixtures still without a win to their name with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea next up.

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How Mitrovic had a game to forget…

You feel some clubs like the Blades are missing their home fans more than most, losing their last three fixtures at Bramall Lane without scoring. The feel-good factor that had them pushing for the European places for most of last season has been replaced by a run of seven successive league defeats either side of the summer break.

That edginess was felt in the early stages as Tom Cairney stung the palms of Aaron Ramsdale with a fierce drive. Fulham knocked the ball around confidently with Ruben Loftus-Cheek finding pockets of space but it was the Blades that carried the greater threat when in the final third.

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John Egan was cleared to play for Sheffield United and took the captain’s armband but Blades boss Chris Wilder made three changes from the team that started the defeat at Arsenal prior to the break as Max Lowe, Oliver Norwood and Oli McBurnie came into the side. Club-record signing Rhian Brewster was named on the bench.

Fulham handed debuts to new signings Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tosin Adarabioyo. Fellow recent arrival Ademola Lookman also got his first start after impressing as a substitute against Wolves.

Chris Basham showed exceptional quality on 29 minutes to find Oli McBurnie six yards out with the goal gaping, but the Scotland striker summed up the lack of confidence within the Blades’ ranks as he could only head straight at Alphonse Areola. It was one of four saves the on-loan PSG man had to make in the first period with the dangerous Sander Berge and McBurnie keeping the stopper very busy.

Berge’s movement to join the front two was a constant pest for Fulham to deal with and he thought he had supplied the cross for the opener just before the break when Tosin Adarabioyo put the ball into his own net and the assistant referee raised his flag as Berge was half a yard offside.

Chris Wilder will have been disappointed not to have headed in at the break with an advantage.

  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

That wastefulness almost came back to haunt Wilder’s men when Robinson inexplicably handled the ball in the area when challenging Loftus-Cheek on 56 minutes. An agitated-looking Mitrovic, who had been quiet, stepped up but blazed a poorly executed penalty over the crossbar. Fulham boss Parker looked away in disgust on the touchline. His striker has failed to score four of his last 10 penalties in all competitions since playing on these shores.

Robinson – no doubt breathing a sigh of relief – redeemed himself minutes later when Fulham created a four-on-two counter attack but the defender read Ivan Cavaleiro’s cross to make a very important clearance as Loftus-Cheek was on for a tap-in.

Wilder’s team seemed to lose their fluidity from the first half and it was Fulham who looked full of energy and ideas. That said, a goal did not look likely until Lookman tricked his way past Basham on the edge of the box before firing an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net.

The response from the hosts was not instant but a set piece provided them with the opportunity to level. In a scramble to clear following Areola’s spill, Robinson got his toe in front of Mitrovic inside the box and the replays showed he was clearly taken out. Referee Andre Mariner was instructed to head over to his pitchside monitor and subsequently awarded the penalty, which Sharp fired home.

That was not the end of the drama as Mitrovic rose highest in the six-yard box in injury time but somehow managed to thump his header wide of the post.

Man of the match: Sander Berge

Despite running out of steam in the second half, Wilder will be taking many positives out of his team’s performance, especially in the opening exchanges. At the forefront of their incisive play was Berge, whose clever positioning and running from midfield was very difficult for Fulham to deal with. He was inches away from providing the moment that would have broken the deadlock when his cross was turned into his own net by Adarabioyo but he was flagged offside.

What the managers said…

Fulham boss Scott Parker: “Overall I’m a bit disappointed, when you get your nose in front with 10 minutes to go you want to see it out. We had some big chances to see it out at 2-0, but it wasn’t meant to be. There were some real positives. There were elements we didn’t like in the first half so we changed that and we looked a real threat in the second half. We caused Sheffield a lot of problems. Overall I’m disappointed, to be so close to three points and come away from one. But I think there were some positives to take away.”

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  • Sheffield United have failed to win any of their opening five league games to a season (D1 L4) for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign, when they were relegated from the Premier League.
  • This was Fulham’s first draw in 15 Premier League matches under Parker (W3 L11). Indeed, it was their first stalemate in 24 matches in the competition since a 1-1 draw with Wolves in December 2018.
  • Sharp’s strike from the penalty spot was Sheffield United’s first goal in 368 minutes of Premier League action at Bramall Lane since David McGoldrick scored their third against Chelsea in July.
  • Lookman scored his first goal in 37 Premier League appearances; his only previous goal in the competition came on his debut against Manchester City for Everton in January 2017, three years and 277 days ago.
  • Mitrovic was the first player to both miss a penalty and give away a penalty in the same Premier League game since Mikel Arteta for Arsenal in November 2012 – which was against Fulham.
  • Fulham picked up their first points of the season and left Sheffield United in the mire with Ademola Lookman firing home in a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane.

What’s next?

Sheffield United travel to champions Liverpool next Saturday evening, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Meanwhile, Fulham host London rivals Crystal Palace in a 3pm kick-off on the Saturday.

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