REPORT: Stevenage 4 Sheffield United 0

Dani Lopez runs off to celebrate after scoring the opener. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Dani Lopez runs off to celebrate after scoring the opener. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Match report plus photo gallery from Saturday’s League 1 match

Stevenage 4

Sheffield United 0

npower League 1

DANI Lopez scored a stunning hat-trick in his first start in a Stevenage shirt as Boro tore through high-flying Sheffield United today (Saturday).

It was a memorable individual display from the striker, and it was his second hat-trick in the space of a week after the Spaniard netted three times whilst on loan at Barnet last weekend.

Lopez was recalled from the League 2 side this week, along with defender Bondz N’Gala, due to Boro’s mounting injury and suspension list, while team-mate Marcus Haber was due to join up with the Canada squad after this weekend’s action.

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The inclusion of the duo coincided with the recall to the side of James Dunne, following suspension, and Gavin Mahon, following injury, while Darius Charles (suspension) was missing and Luke Freeman, Sam Hoskins and Greg Tansey were all on the bench.

Boro started with intent, and they pinned the Blades back in the opening 15 minutes before the visitors were forced into an early change when Jamie Murphy went off with a leg injury and Callum McFadzean took his place.

There was an early chance for Lopez, whose shot went out for a corner, while for United Kevin McDonald fired over before Ryan Flynn got in behind the Boro back line forcing Steve Arnold into a fine save.

Stevenage dominated the opening half and they got a deserved first of the afternoon on 40 minutes when Miguel Comminges passed to Lopez, allowing the front man to turn his defender and beat George Long from close range.

It was an assured finish from a player who had already delighted the home crowd with some of his early play, and just two minutes after netting his first goal for the club Lopez tried an audacious chipped shot over Long only for the goalkeeper to push the effort over his bar.

The visitors made a second change at half-time with Jonathan Forte replacing Flynn, but it was Boro who scored next with Lopez the scorer.

This time a James Dunne cross following a short corner was cleared as far as Mahon, and as the defenders pushed out the on-loan midfielder put the ball back into the box where Lopez ran on to it and tucked his effort past Long.

United were straight on the attack themselves, and after Lee Hills’ last-ditch tackle stopped one effort Arnold was pulled into a fine save to tip Harry Maguire’s header over his own bar from a corner.

A second corner was then sent in and when a header beat Arnold, Anthony Grant, on his own line, was there to head the ball onto the underside of the bar and into the arms of a grateful Arnold.

It was Grant who was the provider of goal number three, and when the midfielder spearheaded a Boro break he was only ever going to put the ball one place – in front of Lopez.

The striker, to Grant’s right, rifled his shot home past a bewildered Long.

And the scoring wasn’t finished there, as five minutes later Lucas Akins drilled a low shot at goal from distance past Long to nestle in the corner for 4-0.

United should have had a goal themselves with 10 minutes to go, but after making a good run, Forte set up Dave Kitson from 12 yards only for Arnold to deny the front man.

It was an astonishing victory for Boro in a match during which they scored as many goals as they had in their previous nine games.

The win also moves Stevenage 13 points clear of the relegation zone, with bottom side Bury to come on Tuesday.

Stevenage: Arnold 7, Comminges 7, Hills 7, N’Gala 7, Roberts 7, Mahon 7, Dunne 8, Grant 8, Akins 7 (Hoskins 86), Haber 7 (Beleck 75), Lopez 9 (Tansey 79). Subs: Day, Iro, Freeman,

Sheffield United: Long 3, McMahon 4, Hill 5, Maguire 4, Collins 6, Flynn 5 (Forte 46, 4), Murphy (McFadzean 10, 4), McDonald 6, Doyle 5, Robson 5, Kitson 3. Subs: Coyne, Higginbottom, Westlake, Poleon, Porter.

Att: 3483 (1118)