Fulham missed the chance to take a five-point lead in the Sky Bet Championship as they fell 1-0 to Sheffield United in the last game before Christmas.

The only goal of the game came after four minutes, when young Blades star Iliman Ndiaye came home from the edge of the box after a meteoric run from inside his own half.

Championship top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic had the hosts’ best chance of equalizing with a few minutes left at Craven Cottage, but he shot the woodwork before Harry Wilson blew the rebound.

While Marco Silva’s men remain at the top of the table, Bournemouth remains just two points behind, with Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn unleashed just one behind. Sheffield United, meanwhile, climb to 11th, three points off the top six, after their fourth consecutive win.

Bournemouth’s out of form 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough on Saturday had given Fulham the chance to consolidate his title leader status at Christmas, but against the Blades – giving themselves an additional seven days off due to their clash being postponed with QPR last Monday – they were hit hard a few minutes after kick-off.

It came about thanks to a magical moment from Ndiaye. The 21-year-old Frenchman took control of the ball in his own half, burst forward and passed several opponents, before taking on the challenge of a sliding Tim Ream and firing a low shot out of the keeper’s reach. Marek Rodak.

Iliman Ndiaye scored a brilliant solo goal to give Sheffield United the lead in their Championship game against Fulham

As expected, Fulham was dominant in possession from there, although a well-organized defense from Sheffield United managed to limit their chances. Mitrovic fired a warning shot when he fired a wide first shot, before Neeskens Kebano barely hit the corner.

The Blades were quiet on offense, but emerged with golden opportunities when their opponents least expected them. John Egan timed his run to perfection and almost took a free kick at the back post midway through the second half, while Jayden Bogle pushed on every opportunity and Billy Sharp was denied a beautifully crafted second by the linesman’s flag.

On December 3, Fulham finally equalized after being tackled by Bournemouth and it looked like there would be a repeat when Mitrovic worked for a late shot. But after a shoulder drop sent three United players packing their bags, he appeared to lose his balance and shake the post and with Wilson unable to use the rebound their luck ran out.

Just two seasons ago, the Blades youngster was on loan at Hyde United in the Northern Premier League. This season he took his chance and ran with it.

The confidence and poise he showed in scoring what turned out to be the winner was quite a sight to behold, but not only that, his work off the ball has been impressive throughout and will be key. if Paul Heckingbottom’s men have to threaten promotion places in the second half of the season.

by Fulham Marco Silva: “It was a frustrating night for us, definitely. If you analyze the chances they created for themselves and we created during the game, it was not a game to lose because we had two moments where we could score; they had the goal and I don’t remember anything. But the overall performance has been disappointing. We weren’t even close to where we should be having a good night, winning the game and enjoying what we were doing on the pitch.

“After the goal we were less confident to play, but that’s when we have to show why we’re at the top and our personality and our character as a team. It was not our best night and of course we were disappointed. “

Sheffield United Paul Heckingbottom: “I could stay here and be critical and say we could have, should have been better with the ball, but after thinking the game quickly and running through it there’s no way we would have won a game like this some time ago Players can be proud of the effort they put in.

“We limited them to very few chances – probably the only one was in injury time when we got away with one when they hit the bar. Other than that, we were very comfortable. Of course we would have liked to be better with the ball but other than that we were strong. “

The two teams are then in action at 3 p.m. on Boxing Day. Fulham welcome Birmingham to Craven Cottage, while Sheffield United travel to Deepdale to face Preston.

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