Aston Villa 1-1 Sheffield United (22 Dec, 2023) Game Analysis

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A goal deep into stoppage time by substitute Nicolò Zaniolo snatched a 1-1 draw for Aston Villa at home to Sheffield United on Friday as the Blades brought their hosts’ 15-match winning run at home in the league to an end.

The draw sees Sheffield United climb off the bottom of the table to 19th spot on nine points, one ahead of bottom side Burnley, while Villa remain in third place on 38 points, one behind leaders Arsenal.

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Villa came into the game knowing that a win would send them to the top of the table as the busy Christmas period gets underway, but they almost came unstuck as Sheffield United took the lead late on after a stalwart defensive performance.

The home side dominated the game until late on, enjoying almost 80% possession, but they were left frustrated by the solid defensive block of the Blades, which limited them to a single shot on target until Zaniolo’s late header.

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Nicolò Zaniolo’s late goal saved a point for Aston Villa against Sheffield United.

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The visitors were lucky to survive an early VAR review after Vinicius Souza appeared to push Villa striker Ollie Watkins in the back before he headed a cross behind, and they escaped two further penalty reviews from the resulting corner.

Sheffield United keeper Wes Foderingham made a smart one-handed save to deny Moussa Diaby in the 18th minute, and four minutes later Ezri Konsa should have opened the scoring for Villa, but he could not keep his header from a corner down.

The Blades benefited from another favourable VAR decision on the hour mark when Leon Bailey‘s goal for Villa was ruled out for a foul on keeper Wes Foderingham, and they defended doggedly to set up a grandstand finish.

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Cameron Archer, who joined Villa from the Blades in August, scored what looked to be the winner for his side in the 87th minute, but Zaniolo struck in the seventh minute of stoppage time to salvage a point for his side.

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