Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp denies Fulham a first win with a late penalty

Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp denies Fulham a first win with a late penalty

The substitute Billy Sharp grabbed a late equaliser from the penalty spot to salvage a point for Sheffield United against Fulham at Bramall Lane.

Both teams are at least off the mark following Sunday’s match, having each lost their first four games of the campaign. The Blades, a revelation last season with a ninth-placed finish following their promotion back to the top flight, dominated the first half but were made to pay for failing to take their chances when Ademola Lookman put Fulham in front after 77 minutes.

The goal came 20 minutes after Aleksandar Mitrovic had missed a penalty for the visitors, and it would be a spot-kick at the other end, converted with some aplomb by Sharp five minutes from time, that earned the hosts a draw.

Fulham looked confident early on, knocking the ball around with authority before winning a corner from which Aaron Ramsdale was forced to make a fine save to repel Tom Cairney’s shot from outside the penalty area.

The tide soon turned, however, and Fulham’s defensive frailties, which have been so apparent this season, were exposed again by United. Alphonse Areola tipped over a long-range effort from John Lundstram and Oliver McBurnie headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.

Chris Wilder’s side were now looking confident against a very shaky Fulham defence, but the visitors still had plenty of attacking endeavour, particularly through the waspish Lookman, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek stung the palms of Ramsdale.

Areola made a fine save from point-blank range to keep out a McBurnie header around the half-hour mark as the Blades began to pepper Fulham’s goal once more.Chris Wilder’s team had the ball in the net after 36 minutes when the Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo turned the ball past his own goalkeeper, but Sander Berge was flagged offside.

Mitrovic spurned a golden opportunity early in the second half to make the hosts pay for their catalogue of missed chances. Jack Robinson handled the ball at a corner but Mitrovic blasted the penalty over the goal and into the empty stand, with the ball clipping the crossbar on its way. The Fulham manager, Scott Parker. turned away in disgust.

The game became scrappy for a period thereafter and Wilder’s side had lost their way a little, so the club record signing, Rhian Brewster, was introduced from the bench with 64 minutes on the clock. However, it did little to immediately alter the pattern of play and Mitrovic’s blushes were spared by a piece of individual brilliance from Lookman, who opened the scoring for Fulham.

The 22-year-old collected the ball inside his own half and ran at the Blades defence. He jinked past Berge and, after a slight piece of luck to bypass Basham with a ricochet, Lookman drilled a shot past Ramsdale from inside the penalty area.

Mitrovic should have made it 2-0 but sent his effort straight at Ramsdale from close range, and the Serb’s afternoon got even worse in the 85th minute when he gave away a penalty. A VAR check showed Mitrovic had fouled Robinson and substitute Sharp smashed home the spot-kick.

Mitrovic then spurned two further guilt-edged chances in injury time, heading wide on each occasion, ensuring a stalemate that left both sides looking for their first win this season.