Sheffield United and West Ham share spoils in frantic encounter

Chile international Ben Brereton Díaz opens Premier League account for the Blades with first-half equaliser

This ended as the latest advert for the Premier League in all its frantic, unpredictable glory as added time featured red cards for Rhian Brewster and Vladimir Coufal plus the penalty awarded for Alphonse Areola’s challenge on Oli McBurnie. Before this was taken, there was more: after a stoppage for treatment to the West Ham goalkeeper, he could not continue and so Lukasz Fabasiuni strolled on to face McBurnie. Cue the striker stroking this in, and Sheffield United’s support hitting ecstasy, taunting the travelling fans with: “Who are you, who are you?”

This was 103 minutes into a contest that had flared up from the moment, 25 minutes earlier, when James Ward-Prowse made the Hammers fans directly behind Wes Foderingham’s goal delirious by blazing in a penalty that appeared to grab victory and plunge their hosts into deeper gloom.

Danny Ings won the spot-kick with a surge into the area, first breaking a Jack Robinson challenge, then provoking the foul from Gustavo Hamer that caused Michael Salisbury to award the penalty. The number 8 offered scant complaint to the referee — often a sign of culpability — and was lucky not to be sent off, having been booked earlier in the contest.

Before this Ben Brereton Díaz appeared the headline story: on his Premier League debut, in front of your own crowd, there was nothing better than scoring and this is what the forward did, beating Areola for the equaliser as the break neared.


This answered Maxwel Cornet’s opener, which, like Díaz for United, was his maiden strike for West Ham, the Ivorian having joined two summers ago. If Díaz, who signed on loan from Villarreal on January 5th, can post any kind of decent goal-to-game ratio in the Blades’ remaining 17 matches they may have a chance of avoiding the drop.

Even if he does — and the Chile international missed a golden chance following the interval to score a second — the odds are stacked high against what would have to be a greater escape than West Brom’s so-called Great Escape of the 2004-05 season. At the start of this encounter, Chris Wilder’s men had nine points after 20 matches, the Baggies having been on 11 at the same juncture of their campaign.

Now they are on 10 yet before the late late show, their frustration had seemed encapsulated bv Brewster scything down Emerson Palmieri. This brought anger from the visitors — Coufal was headed off by McBurnie as he approached the substitute and Salisbury to the VAR monitor and, on taking a look, the red card was shown and the Blades a man down and were 2-1 down.

After the restart Ings, to David Moyes’s despair, spurned an opening to kill the contest off and it proved costly. Coufal, booked for his protestations at the Brewster challenge, received a second yellow for a stamp and followed Brewster off the pitch and then came McBurnie’s leveller. — Guardian

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