West Bromwich Albion won for the first time this season in the Premier League to move out of the relegation zone and leave winless Sheffield United bottom of the table.
Conor Gallagher scored the game’s only goal when he drove through a crowded box early in the first half.
Kyle Bartley went close to adding a second for the hosts after the break but his header was superbly kept out by Blades goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Baggies keeper Sam Johnstone twice prevented the visitors from equalising with excellent saves, keeping out ex-West Brom winger Oliver Burke’s powerful header before somehow stopping Oli McBurnie’s fierce drive.
George Baldock also had a golden opportunity to equalise but somehow bent a shot over the bar when unmarked inside the box.
The visitors threw players forward in the closing stages in a desperate attempt to rescue a point but when Lys Mousset lashed over from six yards out deep into the seven minutes of time added on, it was clear it was not gong to be the Blades’ night.
Blades battle but come up short again
Sheffield United’s latest defeat – their ninth of the season – leaves them five points adrift of safety and while there is still plenty of time to turn things round, the situation is looking increasingly bleak.
No team has stayed up in the Premier League having picked up just one point from their first 10 games and the Blades are finding both scoring and keeping out goals difficult, a combination that doesn’t bode well in a battle for survival.
They are the only side in the Premier League yet to keep a clean sheet and have scored just four goals in their 10 games, with two of those penalties.
The one piece of encouragement for Sheffield United fans was the fight their side showed towards the end of the second half, when a mixture of excellent goalkeeping by Johnstone and poor finishing denied them a point.
However, the Blades are now 13 games without a win – a run that stretches back to last season – and need to find a victory soon before their situation becomes too difficult to recover from.
Johnstone shines in crucial win
This was a nervous win for West Brom as they dropped further and further back as the second half wore on, and in truth they can count themselves lucky not to have conceded in the closing stages.
But the nerves were understandable and the psychological boost that moving out of the bottom three will provide should see them play with more confidence in future.
It has been a difficult start for the Baggies but one of the few bright spots has undoubtedly been the form of Johnstone in their goal.
He was excellent in the narrow 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out and was again a rock at the back in this game, keeping his cool and staying alert as his team-mates tired and became edgy in the closing stages.
Sheffield United host Leicester on Sunday, 6 December (14:15 GMT) while West Brom are at home to Crystal Palace at 12:00 GMT on the same day.
More to follow.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Pure perfection
West Bromwich Albion
- 20IvanovicBooked at 2mins
- 14TownsendSubstituted forPhillipsat 75′minutes
- 12Costa PereiraBooked at 86mins
- 29GrantSubstituted forKrovinovicat 75′minutes
- 7RobinsonSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 65′minutes
- 12EganBooked at 58mins
- 29BryanSubstituted forLundstramat 63′minutes
- 8BergeBooked at 18mins
- 16NorwoodBooked at 10minsSubstituted forBrewsterat 54′minutes
- 14BurkeSubstituted forMoussetat 74′minutes
Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 1, Sheffield United 0.
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 1, Sheffield United 0.
Attempt missed. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by John Fleck with a cross.
Attempt missed. Lys Mousset (Sheffield United) right footed shot from very close range is just a bit too high.
Attempt missed. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by George Baldock.
Attempt saved. George Baldock (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lys Mousset.
George Baldock (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion).
Offside, Sheffield United. Lys Mousset tries a through ball, but Chris Basham is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. John Lundstram (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sander Berge.
Attempt missed. Darnell Furlong (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Matheus Pereira.
Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Aaron Ramsdale.
Attempt saved. Hal Robson-Kanu (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Filip Krovinovic.
Offside, Sheffield United. Rhian Brewster tries a through ball, but George Baldock is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lys Mousset.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Sam Johnstone.
Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sander Berge.
Foul by Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion).
- Watch 13 FA Cup second-round games on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and app this weekend. Find out more here.