Andre Green caps astonishing Aston Villa comeback against Sheffield United

A thrilling Aston Villa comeback with three goals in the dying stages of a game dominated by Sheffield United robbed the Blades of top spot in the Championship and turned Billy Sharp’s joy at scoring a hat-trick into ashes.

Sharp appeared to have taken United to the top on goal difference with three goals from close range, but two goalkeeping mistakes in quick succession by Dean Henderson turned the game upside down before Andre Green sent Villa Park wild when he headed home the equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time.

The early pressure was all from the visitors whose quickness of thought and pass continually stretched the Villa defence. George Baldock, finding plenty of room on the right, had the first chance pushed away by Kalinic after he was set up for a shot from 20 yards by Sharp.

Sharp gave United the lead when an Oliver Norwood corner was headed back across goal by Gary Madine and the striker scored his 20th of the season. Villa were unable to get any grip on the game for the first 20 minutes but Jack O’Connell executed a superb yet high-risk tackle to stop a solo breakaway by Tammy Abraham, the first flash of resistance by the home side.

Billy Sharp scores his second goal of the match after appearing to kick the ball out of Lovre Kalinic’s hands.
Billy Sharp scores his second goal of the match after appearing to kick the ball out of Lovre Kalinic’s hands. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action Images

Villa finally began to get the ball out wide and exert some pressure but the United defence held firm, even if Abraham’s movement caused flutters of concern. Alan Hutton had the home side’s first meaningful shot on goal after 36 minutes but his half-volley sailed over from 30 yards.

Chris Basham picked up a yellow for a late tackle on John McGinn and then put United in trouble with a misdirected clearance at the far post that sent the ball looping back into the six-yard box. The visitors cleared but the home fans sounded more optimistic as the half-time whistle blew.

Anwar El Ghazi began finding plenty of space on the right for Villa after the break but Sharp seemingly snuffed out any chance of revival when Kieran Dowell’s shot was parried by Lovre Kalinic, Madine headed across goal and against the post and Sharp again jabbed home.

But Villa players and manager Dean Smith were adamant Sharp had kicked the ball out of Kalinic’s hand after it had come off the post. However Tony Harrington, the referee, gave Sharp the benefit of the doubt after he scored with outstretched boot. He quickly made it 101 goals for United with a back-post header off Dowell’s cross, and the three points seemed secure.

Tyrone Mings gave Villa hope when he headed home after Henderson flapped at a Conor Hourihane corner. The keeper then weakly pushed out a shot by Tommy Elphick for Abraham to score. Green capped the recovery by heading in McGinn’s cross.

Sheffield United are two points behind Leeds United, who play at Middlesbrough on Saturday, and Norwich, at home to Ipswich on Sunday.