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Fulham’s Willian too hot to handle for Sheffield United

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Oct 2023

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Willian rolled back the years as Fulham cruised to a 3-1 victory over Sheffield United.

The 35-year-old Brazilian produced a stunning display, cementing his side’s win with a third goal following Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s strike and an unfortunate Wes Foderingham own goal.

United’s only goal also came when Antonee Robinson put into his own net.

Fulham – looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to west London rivals Chelsea on Monday – started strongly and in the sixth minute Willian picked the ball up on the left and beat his man on the outside before De Cordova-Reid failed to convert his inch-perfect delivery.

Willian was off the pace on Monday but he looked to make up for it with surging runs forward, one which nearly set up Vinicius before his own shot inside the box was saved by Foderingham after 19 minutes.

Play halted for an extended period after Blades skipper Chris Basham suffered a serious ankle injury which saw him carried off on a stretcher with the score at 0-0.

But the Willian show resumed immediately and Fulham went close when the former Chelsea winger combined with Vinicius on the break before a quality defensive tackle denied the hosts taking the lead after 40 minutes.

Sheffield United were being outfought, they rarely had meaningful touches in Fulham’s territory and their first-half performance begged the question as to where their chances would come from. Their hosts always looked the favourite to get the first goal.

And Fulham should have done just that but they squandered the best chance of the match so far during 14 minutes added-time.

Willian ghosted his marker with his explosive acceleration before he produced another exceptional cross to the feet of countryman Andreas Pereira who somehow found a way to sky his chance from six yards out.

Fulham’s wasted chances were a reminder as to why their five league goals are the joint-lowest in the Premier League this season.

But in the 53rd minute the Cottagers took a deserved lead through De Cordova-Reid.

Fulham transitioned quickly and a splitting pass from Pereira set the Jamaica international through before he held his nerve to convert past Foderingham and give the hosts a 1-0 advantage.

But in the 67th minute Sheffield United forced an own goal to level the score at 1-1.

Fulham’s Issa Diop went down injured but the Blades refused to kick the ball out and Yasser Larouci’s dangerous cross cannoned off Antonee Robinson into his own net.

The goal was far from deserved but the Cottagers paid the price for their earlier missed chances which opened the door for the opportunistic visitors to strike.

However substitute Tom Cairney bailed his side out when his long shot forced an own goal and gave Fulham the lead.

The Scot let fly, hitting the crossbar and the ball bounced on to the back of the well-beaten Foderingham and into the net as Fulham took a 2-1 lead in bizarre circumstances.

Willian got the goal he deserved in the eighth minute of stoppage time with a powerful shot that beat Foderingham and settled the game.

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