Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United: Ezri Konsa header gives Villa narrow win
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder criticised two "major decisions" from officials as Ezri Konsa's second-half header gave Aston Villa victory over the Blades, who played for 78 minutes with 10 men.
Konsa headed in fellow defender Tyrone Mings' flick-on in the 63rd minute after Matt Targett whipped a corner in from the left for the only goal of the game.
But Wilder questioned referee Graham Scott's decisions to send off John Egan early in the game and not show a red a card to Villa's Targett for conceding a penalty, which John Lundstram saw saved by Villa debutant Emiliano Martinez with the score at 0-0.
A lengthy VAR review showed Targett had clipped Chris Basham in the box, but the 'double jeopardy' rule - which means a player cannot be sent off when conceding a penalty if they were making an attempt to win the ball - saw the Villa left-back only pick up a booking.
Egan, however, was dismissed for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for tussling with Ollie Watkins, who looked to be in on goal in the 12th minute.
"Why didn't the referee go over to the monitor? I wouldn't come out here and mug myself off - if I thought it was a clear sending-off I'd say so," Wilder told Sky Sports.
"Why didn't he go to the monitor? Why didn't Stockley Park [where the VAR officials are based] say 'it's a bit of tussle and look at it yourself'?
Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: "The penalty - Egan gets sent off 35 yards from goal, Matt Targett makes no effort to win the ball.
"The double jeopardy is only when the opposition player makes a challenge for the ball, the ball is four yards away, so [he can't reach it] unless he's got spider legs he can wrap around - and he hasn't because I've watched it."
The defeat was United's fifth in a row in the Premier League, including the end of last season, and despite regrouping from the sending-off, they could not hold out to earn a share of the points.
Meanwhile, Villa continue where they left off and are now unbeaten in their past five league games.
Villa got off to a good start and within a minute right-back Matty Cash - making his debut - fired a dangerous ball into the box but John McGinn's volley flew over the bar.
United also threatened in the early exchanges and Konsa had to slide in at the near post to prevent a low cross from the right being poked in by David McGoldrick.
But Villa were gifted the upper hand inside a quarter of an hour when Egan pulled back Watkins as he raced on to Mings' long ball and referee Scott showed the red card.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Lundstram could have given United the lead from the spot 20 minutes later but Martinez, who arrived from Arsenal for £17m earlier this month, dived to his right to deny the midfielder.
Conor Hourihane's deliveries were causing problems and although Villa were unable to capitalise initially, they deserved to take the lead through Konsa's header after Jack Grealish and Watkins each went close.
It was Villa's second victory in a week after they overcame League One side Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup second round.
After going two goals down in their Premier league opener to Wolves within six minutes last Monday, Wilder would have hoped for a smoother start at Villa Park.
But again, a needless error from Egan made United's task much harder and Wilder was forced to sacrifice striker McGoldrick before the break.
New signing Ethan Ampadu's introduction was a shrewd tactical decision - releasing Basham into midfield and moving John Fleck across to deal with Cash.
The move paid off immediately with Basham making the forward run into the box to earn the penalty but Lundstram was unable to take advantage.
United kept their organisation and steel at the back - pushing back every set-piece and squeezing out the space in which Villa tried to work for the next half an hour.
But Konsa's header was the key blow and while United had glimpses of hope on the counter-attack, they never truly tested Villa from open play.