After a 100-day absence-and a major technology controversy, the Premier League resumed in a match that was memorable for powerful statements before kick-off, Aston Villa and Sheffield United played a low-key goalless draw.
The players on both sides and officials took a knee in favor of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign for 10 seconds shortly before kick-off, as the game returned without the supporters.
This was led by a minute’s silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives because of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
When the game started in this new environment, Sheffield United was the victims of serious first-half injustice when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland fell in the 41st minute behind his goal-line clutching the free-kick of Oliver Norwood, only for the watch of referee Michael Oliver to fail to signal a goal.
After the season was halted due to the global coronavirus crisis, it was the pivotal moment of a high-profile but low-quality affair that at least represented ‘Project Restart’ success, resulting in a result that was arguably more satisfactory for The Blades than Villa.
While a point for The Blades leaves them four points from Chelsea fourth, Villa – thwarted by some fine saves from Sheffield United keeper Dean Henderson – will feel a missed opportunity.
At least there was a sense of relief that house football was finally up and running again.
Aston Villa 0 – 0 Sheffield United
Yellow Card: Luiz 27′, Lundstram 36′
Aston Villa: Nyland, Konsa (El Mohamadyat 76′), Hause, Mings, Targett, Hourihane, Douglas Luiz, McGinn (Nakambaat 76′), El Ghazi (Trézéguetat 69′), Davis (Samattaat 69′), GrealishSheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, Stevens, Baldock, Berge (Freemanat 69′), Lundstram, Norwood, Robinson, McBurnie (Moussetat 80′), Sharp (McGoldrickat 69′)