Sheffield United surge to Championship summit as Ndiaye sees off Rovers

Sheffield United surge to Championship summit as Ndiaye sees off Rovers

Iliman Ndiaye scored twice within 15 minutes of coming on as Sheffield United claimed an impressive 3-0 victory over Blackburn that lifted them to the top of the Championship. Ndiaye’s brace came after Oliver Norwood had struck the opening goal.

With it being the Blades’ third game in six days, United boss Paul Heckingbottom made several changes to his starting lineup. Oli McBurnie and Reda Khadra formed a new-look strike partnership, with John Fleck returning in midfield. Ndiaye, Rhian Brewster and James McAtee were the players to make way as the trio featured among the substitutes. For the visitors, Tayo Edun was handed his first start of the season and Sam Gallagher was recalled to the starting lineup.

Anel Ahmedhodzic went close to giving the home side an early lead, forcing a save from Thomas Kaminski with a header following a corner. McBurnie then put a close-range header wide and the United striker had another chance moments later.

With Kaminski off his line, Ash Phillips made a vital block to keep out McBurnie’s goal-bound shot after getting on the end of Fleck’s pull-back. McBurnie also put a header off-target before United took the lead.

The goal came in the 31st minute when Norwood sent a curling free-kick over the defensive wall, leaving Kaminski rooted to the spot as the ball nestled in the right-hand side of his net. Norwood soon tried another effort, firing a dipping shot from range which just cleared the bar.

Early in the second half, Lewis Travis had Blackburn’s first effort of note with a shot which swerved away from Wes Foderingham’s left-hand post. McBurnie looked set to end his lengthy goal drought when he received the ball six yards out after John Egan’s knock-down, but he was denied by Kaminski’s outstretched leg. The keeper thwarted McBurnie again moments later with a near-post save.

Ndiaye made it 2-0 after 73 minutes when he diverted Sander Berge’s shot past Kaminski. And the Senegalese player was on target again six minutes later with a superb individual goal, running from the centre circle and holding off challenges before finding the net with a shot just inside Kaminski’s right-hand post.

Chris Basham headed over and Brewster put a low shot from distance straight at Kaminski in the closing stages. Brewster also had a chance in time added on after finding himself through on goal, forcing Kaminski to save with his legs.

It was a dominant display from United, who posed a strong attacking threat and were never seriously tested by a Blackburn side who had won three of their opening four games of the season but have now suffered back-to-back defeats.

McBurnie may be without a goal of his own since he netted in the Carabao Cup in September, but Heckingbottom was delighted with the striker’s all-around display. “He was excellent,” said the Blades manager. “From our point of view, he was involved in all the good things we did. He created chances as well as being on the end of chances and to get that many in a game just shows the hard work that everybody has been doing with him.”

“I think that type of performance would have given anyone a game. We just try and deliver that. We know we’re not going to every week, but we’ll try and do it. In 40 games’ time, if we’re top of the league, I’ll be delighted.”

pacujawicom