Fantastic strikes from Muhamed Besic and Oliver Norwood earned Sheffield United a place in the FA Cup fifth-round at the expense of Championship Millwall.
In a drab game Besic’s outstanding strike, which came as Chris Wilder was preparing to substitute the Bosnian, was the first moment of real quality in the game.
Norwood secured the Blades’ progress when he drilled a Billy Sharp lay-off into the bottom left-hand corner from 22 yards.
In a tight first-half, Sharp came the closest to breaking the deadlock when he rounded Bartosz Bialkowski but saw his effort from a tight angle cleared off the line by James Brown.
Millwall’s only clear-cut chance came when Aiden O’Brien broke the offside trap but his tame effort was easily kept out by Dean Henderson.
The fifth-round draw is live on BBC One during The One Show on Monday 27 January, at around 19:20 GMT.
Top-flight quality sees Blades through
Having made 11 changes for the third round against AFC Fylde, Chris Wilder made just five from their 1-0 defeat against Premier League champions Manchester City on Tuesday night.
With Premier League survival looking almost certain, a cup run would further enhance a fantastic season for the club.
For large parts of the game, it looked like they would be forced into a replay but moments of quality from two of the players Wilder calls upon regularly in the Premier League helped them to progress.
Besic, who has featured in eight of the Blades’ last nine games, was initially crowded out on receiving a pass from Sharp, but a clever decoy run allowed the Everton-loanee to cut inside and generate the space needed to curl into the bottom right-hand corner.
United wrapped up their place in Monday’s draw with another long-distance strike when Norwood, an ever present in the Premier League this season, picked out the bottom corner.
Man of the match – Muhamed Besic (Sheffield United)
‘Two moments of quality have done for us’ – what the managers said
Millwall manager Gary Rowett, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “I’m a little bit disappointed overall. I didn’t think there were massive amounts in the game. I think they were just a little bit more forceful. We knew their mentality would be brilliant but I thought the game was pretty even.
“The more we chased the game the more open we became. We just couldn’t find that little bit of quality, we just huffed and puffed a bit and couldn’t find that quality.
“We had one or two players come into the team today that maybe didn’t do enough to keep their place. But hats off to Sheffield United, two moments of quality have done for us.”
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “It was always going to be a difficult game. There have been some victims over the last few years coming here and getting turned over. I thought our attitude was excellent.
“I didn’t think it was a great game. We were pragmatic in our approach – we needed to show plenty of things to get the result today.”
On his side’s chances of an extended Cup run: “If we could get a home draw, with it being a midweek game with all the travel associated, we’d take that. But to go far in this competition there are hurdles you have to overcome.
“Momentum is key. We want to win games of football. Our changes show you what our boys are like. There are some good players not getting game time at the moment. Every game is an opportunity to grasp and some players grasped that opportunity today.”