Sheffield United’s dreams of European football have been dealt a hammer blow after a 1-0 Premier League defeat by Everton.
A seventh-placed finish in the Premier League will be enough for a Europa League spot should Chelsea win the FA Cup on August 1, but all hopes of European football at Bramall Lane for the first time in the club’s history will be extinguished if Wolves win against Crystal Palace later on Monday night.
The Blades, who remain eighth in the standings, were the team with the incentive and the team with something still to play for prior to kick-off with Everton, dire since the restart, unable to even finish in the top half of the table.
However, Chris Wilder’s team, unchanged despite the below-par defeat at Leicester on Thursday, began the game untidily as both sides gave the ball away with frustrating regularity at the beginning of a largely forgettable first half.
Everton almost went in front just before half-time when Theo Walcott clipped a cross to the far post and former Blade Dominic Calvert-Lewin got above his marker but headed the ball against the post from four yards.
It turned out to be a warning sign for Sheffield United as right at the start of the second half Everton opened the scoring.
There were less than 60 seconds on the clock following the restart when Gylfi Sigurdsson swung in a flat cross from a free-kick on the right. Richarlison got in front of his man 12 yards out and glanced his header beyond the diving Henderson.
A fine block by 18-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite, making his first Premier League start for Everton, denied David McGoldrick the chance of an immediate reply at the other end.
McGoldrick also scooped an effort over the crossbar with the last kick of the match, as Everton held on to win for the first time in five games.
Final score: Sheffield United 0-1 Everton