Aston Villa held Sheffield United to a 0-0 draw but the first game of the Premier League restart was marred by a goal-line technology error.
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Just before half time Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland clearly fell into his own net with the ball in his hands but the Goal Decision System didn’t alert referee Michael Oliver that the ball was over the line and VAR wasn’t used.
Aston Villa were the better team and created plenty of chances as Dean Henderson made a plethora of fine stops to secure a shutout for Sheffield United.
With the point, Villa remain in 19th but are just one point from safety and have no played the same number of games as the teams around them. Sheffield United move up to sixth place but are just four points behind fourth-place Chelsea.
Three things we learned
1. Goal-line technology fail a big issue: What on earth happened!? This was a major error and it worked in Villa’s favor. If at the end of the season they end up staying in the Premier League by one point, the other teams at the bottom will not be happy at all. Simply put, the Goal Decision System (GDS) didn’t work as Oliver didn’t get an alert on his watch. Replays showed it clearly crossed the line and VAR should have intervened but it didn’t despite 69 seconds passing before the ball next went out of play. Villa will be relieved, Sheffield United enraged as that extra two points would have put them even closer to the top four and the Champions League. What a mess.
2. Villa ready for relegation scrap: GDS issues aside, Villa played pretty well. They were solid, hardly gave up any chances and forced Dean Henderson to make several fine saves. If Villa keep playing like this they have a chance to stay up. They will have to be even better at the back when they host Chelsea on Sunday but Dean Smith’s side played with a renewed sense of grit and John McGinn played a big part in that on his return from injury.
3. Poignant protests as one: The moving protests at the start of the game saw every single player, coach and official taking a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement and honor George Floyd. It was extremely moving and showed clearly that every single person stands together.
Man of the Match: Dean Henderson – The Man United loanee continues to shine and he made several smart stops, especially in the second half, to record a shutout. The youngster will surely be knocking on the door for the England national team in the fall.
Villa took the game to Sheffield United early on as Conor Hourihane had a shot pushed away by Dean Henderson, then Keinan Davis nodded over from close range.
Kourtney Hause went close at the near post as Villa continued to look dangerous from set pieces as Sheffield United didn’t get going in the first half.
A huge moment arrived just before half time as Oliver Norwood’s free kick looped towards the back post. Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland caught the ball but collided with his own striker Keinan Davis and clearly fell over his own goal-line with the ball.
However, referee Michael Oliver pointed to his watch and indicated that the goal-line technology system didn’t tell him it was a goal. No goal was awarded and VAR didn’t intervene as Sheffield United’s players and staff couldn’t believe it.
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In the second half Villa kept attacking and Davis forced Henderson into a fine save at his near post, with Jack Grealish a growing influence on the game.
Davis slid in at the back post but just failed to get on the end of El Ghazi’s cross, then Henderson denied John McGinn with a flying save.
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With both teams making plenty of subs late on, the flow of the game was impacted and Sheffield United had a few half chances but the clash petered out into a 0-0 draw.
All of the talk post-game will be about that goal-line technology error which turned out costing Sheffield United the victory.