Europa Conference League final previewMay 24 | 4 min read
Paul Heckingbottom hails Sheffield United response in comeback win over Cardiff
The Blades scored three times after Sean Morrison was sent off to win 3-2.
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom praised his side’s character as they fought back from a goal down at half-time to beat 10-man Cardiff 3-2.
United trailed 1-0 at the break after missing a host of chances but Sean Morrison’s dismissal turned the game on its head and the Blades scored three times before Cardiff bagged a late consolation.
“It was definitely a deserved win,” said Heckingbottom. “I was angry at half-time because we had plenty of chances to be well in front but we came unstuck from their big threat.
“To go in 1-0 down at half-time was really disappointing. But I’m pleased with how we responded, how we moved the ball and they type of goals we scored.”
Morgan Gibbs-White was the star man with a goal and two assists but Heckingbottom was keen to praise his whole team.
“Morgan was excellent,” said Heckingbottom. “We moved him infield after the sending off and played him as a number 10 with two up top to try to get him on the ball more often and it worked out well for us.
“But it wasn’t just him. The first goal was a piece of individual brilliance. The second goal he was heavily involved but it was a fantastic team goal and the third as well.”
Mark Harris was given time and space in the box following a free-kick to fire the hosts ahead on 32 minutes.
But United took control after Morrison was sent off for denying Billy Sharp a goalscoring opportunity seven minutes after the restart.
Gibbs-White scored a spectacular equaliser, curling his shot over Alex Smithies from 20 yards after 61 minutes, before teeing up Sharp and David McGoldrick to complete the comeback with 15 minutes remaining.
Mark McGuinness’ last-minute header proved to be only a consolation for the hosts as Heckingbottom made it two wins from two as Blades boss.
Cardiff manager Steve Morison was certain that the red card changed the outcome of the match.
“The sending off killed us but everything around that was really good, it was a positive performance,” he said.
“I thought it was a game we were in control of. They had a couple of chances early doors where we were sloppy but we got a deserved goal and we were on top at the start of the second half before the sending off.
“We made a couple of changes to try to stop them from scoring for as long as we could.
“Unfortunately, the guy cuts in and scores a worldy so you take that on the chin. They’re a really good team and they overloaded us in wide areas and they got their second goal and then their third.
“Credit to the lads, they showed that they’re giving everything for the football club in the last 15 or 20 minutes. We got one and we could have come away with an unexpected draw.”