Sheffield United 2-1 Sunderland: Anel Ahmedhodzic scores one, makes another as Blades go fourth

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Sheffield United continued their strong start to the Championship season with a 2-1 victory over Sunderland.

Goals from Anel Ahmedhodzic and Max Lowe, either side of the break, put the Blades in command.

After being forced to play with only 10 men for around an hour after Dan Neil was sent off, Sunderland reduced the arrears with a goal from Lynden Gooch, but they never seriously threatened to draw level.

Gooch put an effort on target with only two minutes on the clock, but United keeper Wes Foderingham was equal to it, making a comfortable save.

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Sheff Utd take an instant advantage over ten-man Sunderland after Ahmedhodzic powers home a header

At the other end, Rhian Brewster put an effort off target.

Brewster received the ball from Lowe and put another shot on target, but it was straight at keeper Anthony Patterson.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Neil was sent off in the 31st minute.

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Sunderland’s Dan Neil is sent off after hauling down Sheffield United debutant James McAtee when through on goal

After James McAtee nipped in to win possession following a hesitant touch from Neil, he was brought down by the Sunderland player as he raced towards goal and referee James Linington immediately brandished a red card.

United soon made the numerical advantage count with Ahmedhodzic getting on the end of an Oliver Norwood corner in the 33rd minute, powerfully heading into the net from inside the six-yard box.

An impressive move two minutes after the restart saw the hosts extend their lead. Norwood’s pass, intended for Sander Berge, was dummied into the path of Ahmedhodzic whose low cross to the near post was tapped in by Lowe.

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Max Lowe finishes off a beautifully worked move to put Sheffield United two-up against Sunderland with barely 60 seconds played in the second half

Sunderland pulled a goal back when John Egan’s poor pass to McAtee was intercepted by Jay Matete and Stewart seized on the loose ball, playing in Gooch, who chipped Foderingham.

Berge went close to restoring United’s two-goal lead, producing a strong run into the area before firing in a shot which was deflected onto a post.

Oli McBurnie came on as a substitute for the home side and he was soon involved in the action, putting an angled shot on target which was straight at Patterson.

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A fantastic goal from Lynden Gooch pulled Sunderland back into their match at Sheffield United

The keeper then made a good save to keep out Norwood’s well-struck curling effort, turning the ball away for a corner.

Patterson just beat McBurnie to a ball played in from the left as the hosts looked to kill the game off.

The keeper again thwarted McBurnie again in stoppage time, saving the striker’s low shot.

What the managers said…

Sheffield United’s Paul Heckingbottom: “I thought the first half we weren’t as composed on the ball as we wanted to be. Credit to Sunderland – they stepped onto us and took risks. Fair play to them. I thought we settled down a bit as the game went on. We needed to be better in the second half and then we were. The problem is, when you give a goal away like that, it just changes the dynamic.

“We forced the error pressing high and robbing the ball. It’s a red card but then you want to compound that, and we did that. The start of the second half, we showed a lot more composure on the ball, moved it a lot quicker and before you know it, then you’ve got bodies up the pitch and you can start to score the goals that we did like that.”

Sunderland’s Alex Neil: “I don’t have any mixed emotions at all. I have pride in my players in terms of how they went about it. We made in error in the game, which can happen, particularly if you’re going to try and risk the ball that we did. Unfortunately, we make a mistake, they capitalise on it and we get a man sent-off and then the job becomes really difficult at that point.

“I thought the effort levels were through the roof, really, because Sheffield United are a very, very good team. For 30 minutes, I thought we more than matched them. The one frustration I probably do have is the timing of the second goal. I think when you come out and you’ve got 10 men, you need to keep the next 10 or 15 minutes as tight as you can.”

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