Late drama as Sharp denies Canaries a hard-earned point at Sheffield United
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Billy Sharp denied Norwich City a hard-earned point at Sheffield United in the third minute of injury-time, to condemn the Canaries to a second successive Championship defeat.
United had taken an early lead through a John Egan header but the visitors levelled midway through the first half through striker Jordan Rhodes, on loan from the hosts' local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, after taking control of the game.
Both sides missed two big chances during the second half, with Rhodes heading against the post for the Canaries, but Sharp popped up in the third minute of injury time to ram home from close range and send Bramall Lane bonkers.
Head coach Daniel Farke had made two changes to his league starting XI, making the decision to bring Jamal Lewis in at left-back for his first appearance of the season despite missing all of pre-season.
Tom Trybull also returned in midfield in a switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Kenny McLean out until after the international break after tweaking a knee ligament in the 3-1 cup win over Stevenage in midweek.
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The Blades assumed control from kick-off and found the opening goal in the ninth minute, after Oliver Norwood lashed a shot which Lewis deflected behind for a corner.
Brighton loanee Norwood floated the set-piece over and Egan looped a header over City keeper Tim Krul, with a bit of help from a slight deflection of Rhodes' head, and Trybull nodded clear off the line only for goal-line technology to rule the ball had crossed the line.
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Rhodes nodded a Ben Marshall corner wide in the 23rd minute as the technically-better visitors took control of the game – and an equaliser followed three minutes later.
Rhodes headed a clearance down to Teemu Pukki, who set Hernandez away on the right, who turned his marker inside and out before crossing low to allow Rhodes to complete the move, lashing a close-range shot into the roof of the net.
It was a deserved leveller but the Canaries needed heroic blocks from centre-backs Grant Hanley and Timm Klose soon after the goal, denying shots from John Fleck and Leon Clarke respectively.
Krul saved with his legs in the 28th minute after Clarke failed to make proper contact with a Luke Freeman cross from the right.
Otherwise it was City in control through to the break, without creating too much more, with Pukki booked after a poor touch allowed Sharp to break and the Finn cynically hauled him down to stop the counter.
Krul had to tip a Jack O'Connell bicycle-kick over his bar five minutes after the break, after Norwood had floated a free-kick from the left to the back post, as United improved having replaced Liverpool loanee Ben Woodburn with Ryan Leonard in midfield at the break.
The Canaries had a huge chance in the 64th minute, when Trybull's clearance caught out the Blades defence on the counter and cannoned back off him to set the clearly offside Moritz Leitner clean through – only for no flag to be raised and Dean Henderson to spread himself and deny the German one-on-one, when he really should have scored.
Three minutes the later and it was the post that denied the visitors. Pukki won a corner, which was put across from the right by Marshall and won in the air by Hanley, which Rhodes turned goalwards with his head but could only find the left-hand upright, with Pukki unable to flick the loose ball back on target.
United should have reclaimed the lead in the 76th minute when Chris Basham beat Klose to a Norwood corner from the right but headed over and less than two minutes later a Norwood cross from the right was headed wide at the back post by Egan – making it two big chances missed apiece in the second half.
Krul came to the rescue in the 83rd minute, making himself big to deny Billy Sharp after a superb through-ball from Basham played him through on goal, with the City defence scrambling the loose ball clear as nerves started to show.
There was a late opportunity for the Canaries as substitute Dennis Srbeny was bundled over 25 yards from goal but Marshall's free-kick was blocked by the jumping wall, as both teams looked to be running out of steam.
The Blades found one last push though and former Ipswich striker David McGoldrick cushioned down a cross to the back post from Basham deep into injury-time, allowing Sharp to snatch the points from point-blank range.
The Canaries are back in action on Wednesday night when they welcome Alex Neil's Preston to Carrow Road.
Norwich: Krul: Marshall, Hanley, Klose, Lewis; Tettey (Godfrey 90+2), Trybull; Pukki (Srbeny 87), Leitner (Stiepermann 78), Hernandez; Rhodes. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Zimmermann, Thompson, Aarons
Booked: Pukki (foul on Sharp, 35), Trybull (foul on Norwood, 63)
Goals: Rhodes (26)
Sheff Utd: Henderson; Freeman (McGoldrick 61), Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Stevens; Norwood, Fleck, Woodburn (Leonard 46); Clarke, Sharp (Stearman 90+4). Unused subs: Moore (GK), Lundstram, Lafferty, Moore, Lavery
Booked: McGoldrick (foul on Hernandez, 84)
Goals: Egan (9), Sharp (90+3)
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Attendance: 23,850 (1,217 away)