Sergio Aguero’s goal returned Manchester City to winning ways on Wednesday after a disappointing 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Aguero’s goal, his eighth in five games, deservedly rewarded the visitors’ attacking endeavour against a stubborn Sheffield’s defence.
It was a moment of relief for City, who had a Gabriel Jesus’ penalty saved by the impressive Dean Henderson in the first half of a keenly fought contest.
The result means City stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches and move six points clear of third-placed Leicester City and 13 points behind leaders Liverpool, who play Wolves on Thursday.
Another good news for City was also the return of Aymeric Laporte who helped them to a clean sheet on his first start in five months.
The Frenchman completed 78 minutes on his comeback from a knee injury at Bramall Lane, while Sergio Aguero came off the bench to net the match-winner.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Yorkshire club’s home form and water-tight backline have been the cornerstone of their impressive return to the top tier and it was evident at Bramall Lane, where Chris Wilder’s side made City work hard for the three points.
There was a sense of relief when Aguero scored, but it might not have been the case but for an inspired performance from Dean Henderson.
The England U21 produced a stunning one-handed save to deny Raheem Sterling from six-yards and stopped from a similar distance in the next passage of play to keep out Nicolas Otamendi’s scissor-kick.
He saved his best for Jesus’ penalty, awarded when Chris Basham cleaned out Riyad Mahrez after the Algerian’s footwork confounded John Egan and Enda Stevens.
The Brazilian took responsibility in Aguero’s absence, but his effort was a perfect height for Henderson, who correctly guessed left and pushed the ball away to safety.
Sheffield United had offered little in the first half in which they failed to register a shot on target, but had two glorious chances to take a surprise lead after the break.
Rodrigo had sent a looping header inches wide of the right post as City continued to huff and puff in attack, before Ederson failed to gather Basham’s cross-cum-shot only for Lys Mousset to back-heel straight at the keeper when he might have teed the waiting John Fleck.
It was a reminder of how finely the game was balanced, and City hearts were left racing again when the unmarked Ollie McBurnie slid in but failed to connect with Stevens’ teasing ball across the face of goal.
It was the host’s best move of the game but a minute later, Aguero netted the decisive goal in almost a carbon copy of McBurnie’s missed chance.
De Bruyne’s pass from the right proved more precise from Stevens, leaving the Argentine ace with the simplest of finishes.
The weight visibly lifted from City, who played with more freedom in the closing stages, when Raheem Sterling went close to doubling the lead with a shot that went just wide of Henderson’s left post.
City had to defend a crowded penalty area as United packed the box for a free-kick in the dying minutes of added time, but were resolute to hold on to claim all three points.