Jonjo Shelvey had a goal awarded by VAR as Newcastle stunned Sheffield United at Bramall Lane to climb to 11th in the Premier League.
The controversy arrived in the second half when Andy Carroll was flagged offside after flicking on for Shelvey. The midfielder ran through before slotting past Dean Henderson, whose half-hearted challenge suggested he was expecting the effort to be ruled out.
However, with referee Stuart Attwell having waved play on the goal was checked by VAR, which correctly awarded it after replays showed Carroll was onside when he provided the assist.
Allan Saint-Maximin had earlier opened the scoring with his first goal for Newcastle, heading home Javier Manquillo’s cross.
The frustrated hosts dominated much of the game only to find Martin Dubravka in wonderful form, the Newcastle goalkeeper twice saving excellent headers from Oli McBurnie, as well as keeping out a deflected Enda Stevens strike.
The result ends Sheffield United’s seven-game unbeaten Premier League run, stretching back to a 1-0 defeat by Liverpool on 28 September.
Play to whistle – VAR does its job
VAR has provided plenty of moments of controversy this season, but in this case did exactly what it was supposed to do.
Without it, an incorrect offside call would have been missed and Newcastle would have entered the closing stages of the game trying to protect a one-goal lead against determined hosts who, until that moment, had looked the more likely to add to the scoring.
“We’ve spoke many times about whether VAR is adding or taking away from the game but that’s exactly why it came in,” former Everton midfielder Leon Osman told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Without it, Newcastle would have had that goal taken away from them when he was clearly onside.
“Great credit must go to Stuart Attwell too for just following Jonjo Shelvey as he ran forward and slotted it into the net as the Sheffield United players stopped.”
Blades frustrated but play well again
While this was Sheffield United’s first defeat in seven games, it was a fourth consecutive game without a win – a run that may be starting to concern some fans following their fine early-season form.
But recent results are perhaps not a fair reflection of their performances.
Against Newcastle, they once again played some slick, expansive football and had their opponents pegged back in their own half for almost the entirety of the game.
However, in Dubravka they came up against a goalkeeper in inspired form and his save in the first five minutes from Stevens’ deflected effort was particularly crucial. Had that gone in it could have been a very different game.
Man of the match – Martin Dubravka
‘The game’s changed. It is sucking the life out of me’ – what they said
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, speaking to BBC Sport: “A missed opportunity. I am OK with that performance, it was always going to be difficult against a team that never shifted. The first goal is really important and it is super difficult when you go behind against a team like Newcastle.
“I was told at the start of the season that the linesman would not put his flag up and let it go. He put his flag up and the referee was about to blow his whistle.
“Everyone in the ground stopped. Jonjo Shelvey even nonchalantly went up and took an opportunity. His body language said to me he had seen the linesman had put the flag up and he was going to be offside.
“The game has changed. This game now is completely different to what I experienced as a 16-year-old lad as an apprentice. This game in a heartbeat has changed. I don’t know where it is going and it is sucking the life out of me and the supporters.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: “I was delighted with the spirit of the players. To come here has never been easy over a number of years. Chris Wilder has done a remarkable job.”
On the second goal: “Down the line we are going to have a few that will go against us. I have to say well done to Jonjo for keeping on going. If that is an opportunity the linesman keeps his flag down because it looked borderline. Maybe he could have kept the flag down and checked later. Ultimately it was the correct decision.
“The referee will not blow the whistle and he has done that. Usually it is clear and obvious for the linesman to put his flag up but let’s remind everyone it was the second goal, which wasn’t important anyway.”
Carroll’s long wait ends – the stats
- Newcastle have won three of their last five Premier League games (D1 L1), as many as they had in their previous 13 combined before this (W3 D4 L6).
- Sheffield United have lost each of their last four league meetings with Newcastle, their longest ever such losing run against them.
- Only Southampton (five) have lost more Premier League games on home soil this season than Sheffield United at Bramall Lane (four).
- Saint-Maximin’s goal (14:58) was the earliest Sheffield United have conceded in a league game at Bramall Lane since March 2017, when Ricky Holmes scored in the third minute for Charlton.
- Newcastle scored with their first two shots on target of this game, with Shelvey’s 70th minute goal their first attempt of any kind since Saint-Maximin opened the scoring in the 15th minute.
- Saint-Maximin scored his first Premier League goal in his 11th appearance in the competition and with what was his 17th shot across those 11 games – he had failed to score with his last 46 shots for Nice and Newcastle in Ligue 1 and the Premier League respectively before this game.
- Shelvey has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the very first time in his career, and in back-to-back league games overall for the first time since November 2011 for Blackpool.
- Carroll started his first Premier League game for Newcastle in eight years and 342 days – the second longest run between starts for the club in the competition after Pavel Srnicek (nine years, 62 days), and the seventh longest gap between starts by any player at a single club in the competition’s history.
Sheffield United travel to Norwich on Sunday, 8 December (14:00 GMT) while Newcastle host Southampton on the same day (14:00).