To say it has not been smooth sailing for Sheffield United this season might be an understatement.
After suffering a 5-0 defeat to Leicester last week – their worst defeat in 20 years – chances were not looking hopeful for the Blades as they headed to Stamford Bridge for the FA cup quarter final.
With United under the caretaker management of Paul Heckingbottom, following the departure of Chris Wilder’s earlier this month, Chelsea were enjoying a change of fortune under Thomas Tuchel. They came into the game with an unbeaten run of 13 matches, having only conceded two goals since the German took over.
However, though Chelsea looked set to stroll through to the semi-finals, it was far from an easy victory. Sheffield United were not going down without a fight.
It was a solid start for Sheffield United as David McGoldrick unleashed the first shot on goal in the opening minute of the game.
15 minutes in, Aaron Ramsdale faced the first threat to Sheffield’s goal, but the attack from Chelsea was quickly dealt with.
The Blades were looking excellent as Chelsea made their first shot on goal. However, a low cross from Ben Chilwell was deflected into the net by Oliver Norwood, giving Chelsea a 1-0 lead.
Despite this setback, momentum never faltered for United and they looked to finish the first half strongly. A blind pass from Norwood left Christian Pulisic one on one with Ramsdale, but the United keeper handled it well.
As the whistle blew, Sheffield United were full of spirit and looked set to continue causing problems for Chelsea.
The second half began and a free kick for Chelsea saw Mason Mount bend the ball wide of the goal from around 25 yards.
The Blades were not without chances to score, and the most significant opportunity came for McGoldrick, but he failed to execute, heading wide with the goal at his mercy.
A great shot from Oli McBurnie seemed to signal renewed urgency for United, with a similar opportunity falling to McGoldrick shortly after. Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to save both times.
It was their continued push for an equaliser that ultimately left United open at the back, and in the 91st minute Hakim Ziyech scored, sealing the victory for Chelsea.
After the international break, Sheffield United travel to Leeds at 3pm on April 3.