It was a Premier League match with social distance, temperature controls, and no fans but there was a sense of familiarity with yet another controversial technology failure at Villa Park.
It lifts United to sixth place, one point behind Manchester United who they face next week at Old Trafford, but this technical mistake was inexcusable and does not deserve to be seen as a defining moment in this unforgettable campaign.
The fact that the Video Assistant Referee, the great hope of the Premier League, was unable to interfere only improved the sense of farce.
Oliver Norwood’s free-kick was clearly over the wall, Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland fumbled three minutes before half-time and these two missed points may be a devastating blow when this truncated season is finally over.
In a season strewn with controversy over technology during matches, there was more controversy over a controversial decision when the Premier League resumed with Sheffield United being denied what seemed to be a clear goal at Aston Villa.
Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland flapped at a risky left-wing inswing cross when teammate Keinan Davis bumped into him. Fans and pundits were baffled as replays appeared to show the ball had comfortably crossed the line and commentators questioned why a VAR check had not been conducted.
Wilder said: “I have no idea whether to laugh or cry. It just had the feeling of a goal and that was said to me by the referee [Michael Oliver] but you have to rely on Hawk-Eye to make the decision. The emotions from both player’s sets are that it’s crossed the line. We think it ought to have been referred to VAR.”
Visiting manager Chris Wilder was seen half-time in the tunnel with referee Michael Oliver as the United boss tried to find out if speculation had failed that technology telling the referee when the ball crossed the line through his watch.