Sheffield United 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 - Blades made to suffer by Wolves on opening night at Bramall Lane

CHRIS WILDER’S touchline sprint following John Egan’s stoppage-time winner when these sides last met on July 8 was one of the special moments of an abundantly successful 2019-20 season for Sheffield United.

TOUGH NIGHT: Sheffield United's Enda Stevens shows his frustration at Bramall Lane. Picture: Darren Staples/Sportimage

The Blades manager will have not been so overcome with happiness at the conclusion of this latest meeting just over two months on - quite the opposite in fact.

Two days on from the pomp and circumstance of the Last Night of the Proms, both these sides were bidding to provide sporting enlightenment and joy on their first night of the new season after their supporters were treated to a festival of football last term when they were the division’s stand-out stories behind champions Liverpool.

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Wilder left to rue slow start by Sheffield United in Premier League defeat to Wo...
Sheffield United's Jack O'Connell (C) evades the challenge from Wolves' Raul Jimenez at Bramall Lane. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

The Premier League stands still for no club, though, however successful, as Wilder has been quick and consistent in pointing out.

The first half in particular provided him not just with food for thought but a banquet as the hosts raced into a quick-fire two-goal lead with express speed.

With their pride wounded, United may have regrouped at the interval and imposed themselves more on the game on the resumption when their intensity levels rose, but the Blades chief will have been far more concerned by what happened before that.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp is challenged by Wolves' Adama Traore at Bramall Lane. Picture: Darren Staples/Sportimage

It was a game which Wolves controlled. Having only finished their commitments last season on August 11, the pre-match talk focused on whether the Midlanders would be a tad weary, yet in the event, the complete opposite applied.

A barnstorming opening from the visitors was razor-sharp and devastating in its execution and quickly provided the sort of test that the Blades have rarely seen in their golden recent association with the big time so far.

Further goals could have arrived in the second period on the counter as United pushed forward.

Fortunately, the visitors’ finishing lacked the ruthlessness that their early ventures forward contained with the hosts’ inability to deal with Wolves’ clever set-pieces also likely to be an annoyance to Wilder.

Wolves' Romain Saiss scores his side's second goal at Bramall Lane. Picture: Darren Staples/Sportimage

Two-nil down after six minutes, United - who did not include new arrivals Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe in their squad with Oli Burke and Ethan Ampadu being unused substitutes - were in danger of being floored in a half in which Raul Jimenez, in particular, gave them the runaround in his hundredth game for the club.

The hosts eventually got near him with John Egan and Oli McBurnie booked for fouls on the striker before the break, but not before the classy marksman had opened his account for the season and wreaked untold damage.

His opener was swift and deadly, with Wilder’s warning about Wolves’ proficiency on the counter seemingly falling on deaf ears.

It arrived with just two minutes on the clock when Daniel Podence skipped away effortlessly from John Lundstram and his centre was dispatched brilliantly and instinctively by Jimenez.

The concession of second goal four minutes later was undeniably soft when Romain Saiss exposed dreadful marking to head in Pedro Neto’s outswinging corner.

It was an eventful night for the Moroccan, who headed a late effort from Oli McBurnie off the line and could have taken home the match-ball - as easily could Jimenez.

With the ink barely dry on his new three-year deal, Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito - fresh from three seasons of high achievement - spoke about his desire for his side to be ‘more dominant’ in the new campaign and they answered him in the affirmative.

The game passed many home players by in the first half, by contrast, with only a fine reaction save from Aaron Ramsdale on his second debut to deny Jimenez preventing Wolves from being out of sight early on.

Suitably stung, the Blades went close on the resumption when John Fleck saw his low drive shudder the post, with Goerge Baldock putting the rebound wide.

But all the while, Wolves carried discernible threat on the counter, with Ramsdale - in his first-ever league start for the Blades - making a terrific one-handed save to turn Saiss’s effort onto the post with Jimenez firing the loose ball off target.

Jimenez could still reflect on a handsome night in his milestone occasion for Wolves, in the final analysis.

Wilder, by contrast, must wait for his hundredth victory in charge of a remarkable tenure at Bramall Lane. This was one of those comparatively rare occasions which went against his side. He has never been one for statistics anyway. More the here and now.

Sheffield United: Ramsdale; Basham (McGoldrick 71), Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Norwood (Berge 76), Lundstram, Fleck, Stevens; McBurnie, Sharp. Substitutes unused: Burke, Jagielka, Foderingham, Ampadu, Osborn.

Wolves: Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Traore, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Ferriera 86), Marcal; Neto (Buur 69), Jimenez, Podence (Neves 76). Substitutes unused: Silva, Jota, Ruddy, Vinagre.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

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Thank you, James Mitchinson. Editor.