Football

Premier League | Sheffield United denied by tech error in 0-0 draw with Aston Villa

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in action with Sheffield United's Billy Sharp as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in action with Sheffield United's Billy Sharp as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Technology was thrust back into the spotlight as visitors United appeared to be denied a clear goal at an empty Villa Park.

Aston Villa and Sheffield United drew 0-0 on Wednesday as the Premier League returned to action after a 100-day hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis with strong anti-racism statements and immediate controversy.

Technology was thrust back into the spotlight as visitors United appeared to be denied a clear goal at an empty Villa Park, when Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carried the ball over the goalline just before halftime.

It was a let-off for Villa, who remained second-bottom in the table with 26 points, while Champions League-chasing Sheffield United moved sixth, a point behind Manchester United above them with nine games of the season remaining.

The match had begun with a strong statement of support for the worldwide protests against racism as the players and match officials all took a knee on the opening whistle.

All the players' names on the back of their shirts were replaced with the words Black Lives Matter as the Premier League joined the international protest campaign sparked by the death of George Floyd in America.

There was also a moment's silence before kickoff in memory of those who died in the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, which included the father of Villa manager Dean Smith.

Smith's side were lucky to escape with a point after an off-balance Nyland caught a curling free kick but was bundled back over the line by team mate Keinan Davis in a clumsy defensive mix-up.

Referee Michael Oliver, pointing to his watch, looked to indicate that goalline technology had not verified the ball had crossed the line, despite what appeared to be clear evidence on TV replays.

There was also no intervention from the Video Assistant Referee.

It proved the major talking point from a lively affair on a rainy evening, where both sides showed a lack of match practice.

The visitors will feel hard done by but also had goalkeeper Dean Henderson to thank for securing a share of the points.

He made key saves in the second half, first to deny Davis and then push away a rasping shot from John McGinn on the hour mark as Villa, who lost 4-0 at Leicester City in their last game before the league was suspended on March 9, made six changes to their starting lineup.

Yet sloppy defending, a characteristic of Villa's play this season, almost came back to haunt them when a poor pass was intercepted only for John Lundstrams 70th-minute effort to be blocked.

Neither side took advantage of the new rule allowing five substitutes, but Villa used four in another first for a league game in England.

The game was also stripped of its usual pre-match routine as both sides attempted to keep their distance amid strict health protocols, taking to the field separately and not shaking hands before kickoff.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 3:10:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/sheffield-united-denied-by-tech-error-in-0-0-draw-with-villa/article31857016.ece

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