Sheffield United took a giant leap towards European football next season after cruising to a convincing 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Bramall Lane on Saturday evening.
Read: Sheffield vs Chelsea – team news, match facts and probable lineups
Frank Lampard handed Italian midfielder Jorginho his first start since the restart, in place of youngster Billy Gilmour and N’Golo Kante who were both ruled out with injuries.
There were also spots for Michy Batshuayi and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the bench, while 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Bate also earned his place in the 20-man squad.
Sheffield United on the other hand were looking to keep their European dream alive after that last-gasp win against Wolves in midweek.
The Blades were on the attack under a minute and wasted no time in breaking forward, with O’Connell delivering a dangerous cross into the Chelsea box from the left before Mason Mount hammered it clear.
Chelsea then turned over possession with Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic combining well before the American laid it off to Ross Barkley whose low effort rolled safely into the gloves of Dean Henderson.
Sheffield kept piling the pressure which led to them winning a corner. Arrizabalaga Kepa punched clear from Norwood’s delivery into the box but Osborn, on the rebound, send his shot miles over the bar.
The hosts’ resilience eventually paid off in the 17th minute when Mount lost possession of the ball on the edge of the Chelsea box. Baldock kept it alive before floating a cross to McBurnie in the box who hit a first-time volley which was kept out by a wrong-footed Kepa after a wicked deflection, only for McGoldrick to be the quickest to respond to tuck home the rebound and make it 1-0.
Since conceding, Chelsea struggled to pierce passes together as they tried to move the ball more directly as Jorginho searched for Abraham with a long pass forward to no avail.
In the 32nd minute, Sheffield made it 2-0 via McBurnie’s thunderbolt header at the near post giving Kepa absolutely no chance, after Stevens played a one-two down the left.
Chelsea struggled to make any progress going forward after conceding, but had a chance to pull a goal back just before the interval. Mount squared the ball to Reece James who stroked it fiercely but Henderson was equally up to the the task, pushing it to safety as Abraham missed the rebound.
Lampard made two changes at the beginning of the second period, with Christian Christensen and Mount making way for Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger.
In the 52nd minute Sheffield threatened on the counter with Basham curling from a wide position and James was forced to divert the ball over his own goal for a corner.
Chelsea were soon awarded a set-piece at the edge of the box when Berge cluttered into Ross Barkley from the back, but the Chelsea number 8’s resulting free-kick came off the Sheffield wall before it was cleared away.
The Blues wasted a chance to get a goal back in the 64th minute after Pulisic was played in by Barkley in the Blades box, but the American delayed his shot which was eventually blocked.
Olivier Giroud almost made an instant impact after coming on for Pulisic moments later on. Rudiger send a long ball over the top, very route one, with Giroud smashing it first time on the volley but it went well wide in the end.
Chelsea refused to lie down and created chances one after the other. First Cesar Azpilicueta’s drive was deflected just wide of the post and from the resulting corner, Abraham could only strike over from Rudiger’s flick-on.
It was a nail into the Chelsea coffin in the 77th minute with McGoldrick getting his brace of the evening to make it 3-0. Mousset went down the right, before scuffing the cross. Rudiger made an awful attempt to clear before McGoldrick followed up to finish past Kepa.
With less than 10 minutes left, it was nearly a fourth for the Blades. Mousset sprang the offside trap and tried to lift it over Kepa under pressure from Zouma, but his shot dunked wide.
It was proving to be a disastrous evening for Abrahams who had a chance to get a consolation goal late in the match, but after a decent ball in from Hudson-Odoi, the striker headed straight at Henderson.
With three minutes left, Abraham was at it again but heroic defending from Phil Jagielka, who made a fine block to deny the Chelsea lanky striker after he struck from close range.
Sheffield held on to climb to sixth in the Premier League after a fourth consecutive home victory, while Chelsea stay third but will drop to fifth should both Manchester United and Leicester City win their matches in hand.
Sheffield: Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Osborn, Stevens; McBurnie, McGoldrick.
Subs: Lundstram, Sharp, Jagielka, K Freeman, Robinson, Mousset, Moore, Rodwell, Zivkovic.
Chelsea: Kepa, James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Barkley, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Pulisic.
Subs: Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Bate, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Batshuayi.