This was not a defeat for Sheffield United – it was an annihilation. Newcastle United tossed them around, tore them apart and then humiliated them in a devastating flexing of attacking power.
It was a shock and awe display from Eddie Howe’s men, who secured their biggest ever away win in league football.
They also set a new landmark, with eight different goalscorers in one game.
The record books are not the only things that will not forget this game in a hurry. Newcastle fans will cherish the slaughter at Bramall Lane for decades.
They were frighteningly good, attacking relentlessly, with a head spinning variety of different angles. It was all done at such speed, it left their hosts feeling dizzy and disoriented. By the end, when Alexander Isak danced through the middle of the home defence to score the eighth, Sheffield United looked sick and tired of even trying to stop them.
Conceding eight goals at home is awful enough, the problem is, Sheffield United know it could easily have been double figures. The visitors were so good, so threatening, they should have inflicted the heaviest ever Premier League defeat on the sorry, bedraggled mess the Blades turned into.
Newcastle missed so many chances in the first half, when Callum Wilson could have had a hat-trick and were denied a blatant penalty too when Anthony Gordon was tripped by Jaydon Bogle. This could have been so much worse for the home side.
It will not come as much comfort to Paul Heckingbottom, whose future in the role is looking bleak after this thrashing, but there were not many Premier League sides who could have contained Newcastle in this mood.
Howe’s side brought an excellent week to a magnificent end, and in doing so gave the clearest indication yet they are not going to be one hit wonders in terms of the European contenders. Nobody will fancy taking them on, home or away.
“It’s been an excellent week for us and I have always thought we are capable of doing this to someone,” said Howe. “We had a very difficult start to the season fixture wise but always knew this was a crucial period for us.
“We were not aware we were breaking records during the game, but I was delighted with how we kept going, kept looking to score more goals. I always knew we would click in the final third, we have so many good players in those positions.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the attitude of the team, especially given all the travelling we have done and the emotional and physical drain of playing in the Champions League in midweek.”
We wondered how Newcastle would cope with playing in Europe, but they have won two games either side of a very useful point away to AC Milan. For the time being at least, they are making it look simple.
There was no fatigue, no hint of a lack of motivation or determination. They did the ugly stuff as well as excelled at the beautiful.
Newcastle earned the right to play against a typically physical Sheffield United side, holding their own with the rough stuff, before imposing their will on the game. It was a masterclass from a team that, when it clicks like this in the attacking third, is breathtaking to behold and something close to unstoppable.
They swarmed all over their hosts and although they scored three goals before half time, left the pitch cursing their poor finishing, as well as Stuart Atwell’s baffling decision not to award a penalty.
Newcastle looked like they would score with every attack, so easily were they piercing through the home defence. It was embarrassing for Heckingbottom’s team, whose supporters decided to aim their derision at the match officials rather than their own players.
That stemmed from a perceived, albeit inaccurate, sense of injustice. The home fans thought Gordon had let the ball run out of play – and handled it- before crossing for Sean Longtaff to smash home first time. The ball had not gone out of play and as the handball was not deliberate, the goal stood.
There were also complaints about the fact that Dan Burn scored from a corner, following an excellent save by Wes Foderingham, because the ball deflected goalwards, via Miguel Almiron’s shot, off Fabian Schar’s arm. The Blades were possibly fortunate that Burn scored with a far post header as Anel Ahmedhodzic was pulling and tugging at him and would have surely been sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity if he had missed.
The third goal was entirely down to poor defending rather than bad officiating as Jack Robinson did foul Longstaff on the edge of the area with an over zealous lunge, which led to the Kieran Trippier free kick glanced in by Sven Botman. It was his first goal for Newcastle in his 50th appearance for the club.
Heckingbottom’s side tried to rally at the start of the second half and the Bramall Lane crowd tried their best to encourage, but it was a damage limitation exercise they also failed miserably.
Trippier made it a hat-trick of assists with a first time cross for Wilson to head home from close range.
Gordon, who was superb after replacing the injured Harvey Barnes as an early sub, made it five, with a curling shot from the edge of the area after missing a chance he should have taken seconds earlier. By the time Miguel Almiron made it six the home stands had emptied and only the most loyal – or foolish – remained to see Bruno Guimaraes make it seven with 17 minutes left to play and Isak eight with an expertly taken solo effort.