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Posted on 10 February 2007  - 12:00

A bright start at Bramall Lane counted for nothing as Phil Jagielka's second half penalty secured maximum points for Sheffield United.

A bright start at Bramall Lane counted for nothing as Phil Jagielka's second half penalty secured maximum points for Sheffield United.

Things couldn't have gone better from the first whistle as Robbie Keane flicked a pass to Jermaine Jenas who lofted the ball over Paddy Kenny into the corner for a 1-0 lead with just two minutes on the clock.

We dominated those early exchanges but the aerial ball was a potent weapon for the home side, who clawed their way back via Rob Hulse's header and then Jagielka's emphatic spot kick after Teemu Tainio was adjudged to have fouled Stephen Quinn. Questions marks surrounded whether or not it was in the box and it looked like Quinn simpy ran into Tainio, but it matted little to Jagielka, who slammed home what turned out to be the winner.

The surface at Bramall Lane was like a soggy beach, but Jenas mastered it in the second minute when he glided over the sand in anticipation of Robbie Keane's imaginative flick but he still had plenty to do.

From the right of the United penalty area, he advanced a little and saw Paddy Kenny stray into no man's land before, without a touch of class, the midfielder lofted the ball over the stranded keeper and into the net.

It was an early tonic for the travelling army of Spurs people who battled through the snow to Yorkshire on a really mucky day. It should have been a double tonic before ten minutes were out when Teemu Tainio robbed Stephen Quinn and threaded through to Keane to the right of the area.

Keane went on to beat his man but, with both Dimitar Berbatov and Steed Malbranque waiting, he opted to drill for goal and narrowly missed the far post.

United's response was attempted to cause penalty area mayhem from set pieces and take advantage of the conditions. They nearly did on 23 minutes when, following a Tainio foul, Colin Kazin-Richards flighted in and Rob Hulse did well to connect. His header beat Robinson, crashed off the underside of the bar and was cleared off the line by Pascal Chimbonda.

Robbo was forced to save from another Hulse header moments later as the home side began to build up a head of steam.

United got their reward on 27 minutes when another Kazim-Richards corner picked out the head of Hulse and the big striker nodded downwards and the ball flew up off the deck, defeated all the defenders and landed in the back of the net. Jon Stead was then not far away with a low shot that just cleared our right hand upright before Robinson saved again from the former Blackburn man minutes later.

Clever football involving Didier Zokora, Berbatov, Malbranque and Jenas nearly led to a restoring of the lead just after the half hour mark, the culmination being a one-two between the Frenchman and the Englishman before the latter struck the ball into the ground and just past the post.

The ball was in the net again just before half-time after a Jenas free-kick was nudged into the path of Ricardo Rocha by Berbatov. The defender slotted home, but the striker was penalised for a foul on Stead.

The Sheffield gate came close to being unlocked early on in the second half, both times Berbatov could not make the desired impact. A Kazim-Richards corner then caused further difficulties when now central character Hulse stole in first at the near post and his header rocked the bar.

Just after the hour Sheffield United secured the lead from the spot after Tainio blocked Quinn - illegally said referee Mr Atkinson - just inside the area. Phil Jagielka thumped home his penalty.

Tainio was withdrawn for Jermain Defoe, was quickly in a spot of bother after a coming together with Nick Montgomery, for which both players were booked. Malbranque soon made way as Mido was sent into battle.

With four up front, it became kitchen sink stuff and a long way from the football that gave us an early advantage. United were still snapping into tackles though and the counter attack became a real danger as Stead and Hulse continued to work their socks off - Hulse volleyed over well-placed and Tonge tried a curler, neither a threat to Robinson.