Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder praised the character of his team after they battled with 10 men for more than half an hour to win 1-0 against Aston Villa.
The Blades showed there is fight left in them yet, despite their seemingly helpless position at the bottom of the Premier League table.
David McGoldrick’s first-half goal put the hosts in front but they faced an uphill task to hang on to that lead when Phil Jagielka was sent off early in the second half.
But the remaining 10 Blades stood firm, defended solidly and will feel they have kept alive their faint hopes of pulling off the greatest of escapes.
It would still take a brave person to bet against Wilder’s side being relegated, with a 12-point gap left to bridge in the remaining 11 matches.
“Any result in this division is a huge result for Sheffield United,” said Wilder.
“Obviously it was made a little more difficult going down to 10 men, but we showed good character – as I’ve spoken about all season regarding my team.
“We took that big moment tonight, and when we had to keep the ball out of the back of the net we did that tonight too. And we didn’t make any individual errors, which have cost us all season. We haven’t done those things enough this season.”
Jagielka was sent off after 55 minutes after he brought down Anwar El Ghazi.
Referee Robert Jones initially only issued Jagielka with a yellow card but, after being advised to take a look at the incident on the pitchside monitor, the official changed his decision and sent off the Blades defender.
It will likely turn out to be another controversial VAR decision as it is up for debate whether El Ghazi would have been away through on goal as Kean Bryan was trying his best to cover for Jagielka.
Wilder said: “He was gone as soon as he went over. They’re a brilliant club Villa, they are great, but I tell you what, they’ve had some decisions against us.
“The one last season when the goalkeeper carried the ball over the line, John Egan and Matt Targett at the start of this season. I don’t know where I am with VAR, or am I passed caring? I don’t know.”
Villa boss Dean Smith felt his team should have done more against 10 men, after their hopes of European football next season were dealt a blow with defeat at Bramall Lane.
“The red card can go either way. It went our way, but we couldn’t take advantage of that. We shouldn’t be leaving with nothing, we threw points away tonight,” said Smith, whose side could have gone eighth in the table and three points behind fourth-placed West Ham with victory.
“We were camped in their final third after the sending off for 35 minutes but we couldn’t make that count. With the quality of players we had out there we should have created a lot more.
“It’s very, very frustrating from our point of view. We had the best chances in the first half but ended up going in a goal down.
“I can’t remember Marti (Emiliano Martinez) being worked at any point in the game. We’ve created a lot of chances and not taken them, they’ve created one chance and scored. It’s a really soft goal as well.”
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