Sheffield United 4 vs 5 Fulham Championship 21/11/17
Ryan Sessegnon scored a hat-trick on his 50th Fulham appearance to help his side to an epic win at Sheffield United.
Sheyi Ojo also scored a brace on a bonkers night at Bramall Lane as the Whites secured an excellent victory over a side who were occupying second spot in the Sky Bet Championship.
Leon Clarke netted either side of quickfire goals from Ojo and Sessegnon, before the latter volleyed his side into a half-time 3-2 lead.
Ojo gave the Whites daylight after the break before Sessegnon ensured he’d be taking the match-ball home, although the hosts ensured it would be a nervy finale when Samir Carruthers’ deflected strike went in prior to Clarke also completing his hat-trick.
Slaviša Jokanović made two changes to the side that drew with Derby County, with Kevin McDonald and Ojo returning from suspension and injury, respectively, to take their places in the starting XI, as Tayo Edun and Rui Fonte dropped to the bench.
The Blades needed little over five minutes to take the lead. David Button got down to parry John Fleck’s swerving effort from the edge of the box, but he could only push it back into the danger zone where Clarke was lurking to gleefully tuck home.
Fulham almost equalised immediately when McDonald sent Ojo in on goal with a delightful scooped pass. The winger cleverly diverted a shot towards the far corner but Jamal Blackman got across brilliantly to claw the ball away.
Clear chances were non-existent for a hefty period thereafter, but the next one that did arrive saw the Whites restore parity. Cameron Carter-Vickers tried to play the ball back to Blackman but grossly under-hit his ball, allowing Ojo to burst through before coolly sliding his finish beyond the goalkeeper.
In a fantastic turnaround, Sessegnon put his side in front two minutes later with a superb strike. The 17-year-old collected an Oliver Norwood pass on his chest and left a defender on his backside before slamming an unstoppable shot inside the far post on his weaker right foot.
In the 33rd minute Ryan Fredericks and Billy Sharp went into the book for an altercation after the Blades striker had grabbed the Fulham man back by his neck.
The hosts were looking agitated but they made it 2-2 five minutes later when Clarke rattled a vicious shot in beyond Button from a tight angle after getting past Tim Ream in the penalty area.
It was a remarkable first half and the Whites were back in front before long. Ojo worked a yard of space on the right flank and managed to squeeze a cross to Sessegnon, who converted his volley unmarked at the far post.
Seven minutes were added on at the end of the first half following an early head clash between Fredericks and Fleck, and in the second of those Floyd Ayité was booked for fouling Mark Duffy.
John Lundstrum then followed Ayité in the book for a late lunge on Tom Cairney after the Fulham captain had made the Blades midfielder look a tad foolish with some nice skill.
Seven minutes into the second half Ayité bundled his way into the box and saw his poked shot pushed behind. Goal-kick was the surprise decision, though.
Two wonderful bits of skill from Ayité then presented Fulham with an attacking chance before it was crudely halted by a strong challenge, for which Fleck was fortunate not to be cautioned.
Before the free-kick was taken, United replaced centre-back Carter-Vickers with attacking midfielder David Brooks. Soon after, Carruthers came on for Duffy.
The Blades were doing their best to exert pressure on a well organised Fulham backline, but it was the visitors who had the next sniff of goal 66 minutes in when Sessegnon opened up his legs down the left, but Ojo couldn’t make a good connection with his cutback.
Our first substitution then saw Ayité make way for Aboubakar Kamara, who had an immediate impact. Fulham broke quickly following a United attack, with Kamara unselfishly teeing up Ojo whose low shot wrong-footed Blackman and found the bottom corner.
Denis Odoi was the next player to have his name taken in the 73rd minute when he barged into Brooks.
Both sides then made a change, as Fonte replaced the excellent Ojo, and James Hanson came on for Jake Wright.
Hanson almost pulled a goal back with his first touch when he got in a goalbound header from a corner, but Cairney made an acrobatic clearance off the line.
With 11 minutes to go, Sessegnon completed his hat-trick with a stunning solo strike. He pulled the ball down in the box, skinned his man and lashed a wicked strike across Blackman and right into the corner.
With the game seemingly won, McDonald was given a few minutes rest at the end of the game, as he made way for Stefan Johansen.
Kamara had the ball in the net with a ridiculous finish from a tight angle with five minutes to play, but the linesman had his flag up for an apparent foul in the build-up.
The goals weren’t over, though, as Carruthers then popped up at the other end to send a deflected strike beyond a helpless Button.
Six minutes of added time were announced, and within two of them the deficit was back to one as Clarke became the second player to claim a hat-trick when he beat the offside flag to head in from close range.
Cairney tried to take the sting out of the game with a determined run forward, and he drew a foul from Brooks in a deep position, for which the substitute was booked.
After a remarkable closing stage of the game which saw Kamara yellow carded for time wasting and Cairney denied a stonewall penalty, the final whistle eventually went to bring the curtain down on what was a breathless night in Yorkshire.