Sheffield Wednesday returned to the top of the Championship table thanks to a 1-0 win over struggling Luton Town, while Middlesbrough beat Wigan Athletic by the same scoreline for their first win of the campaign.

Phillip Cocu suffered his first defeat in charge of Derby County as Bristol City held on to triumph 2-1 at Pride Park.

Birmingham City turned it on in the final 21 minutes against visitors Barnsley, claiming a 2-0 victory to join six other teams on seven points.

And Blackburn Rovers left Hull City with the points as the hosts were ultimately left to rue a missed penalty at the KC Stadium.

 

BORO BOUNCE BACK

Jonathan Woodgate's Boro have endured a difficult start to the campaign, failing to win any of their first four matches.

But they got up and running with their first victory after they held off Wigan.

Britt Assombalonga grabbed the decisive goal in the 23rd minute, powering home a header from Jonny Howson's cross.

Wigan piled the pressure on towards the end, but Darren Randolph helped ensure the hosts clung on.

 

OWLS SOAR BACK TO THE SUMMIT

Wednesday fans were justifiably frustrated after Millwall ended their winning start to the season last time out, despite the Lions finding themselves reduced to 10 men in the first half.

They were not exactly convincing upon their return to Hillsborough, with boos audible at half-time, but they got the job done to move top with nine points from four games despite not having a full-time manager in place.

Kadeem Harris, who has impressed since joining on a free transfer from Cardiff City in July, scored the winner in the 54th minute, tapping in from close range.

Promoted Luton finished the game with more shots than their hosts, but they ran out of steam in the second half after a solid showing before the interval.

 

TIGERS RUE BOWEN MISS

Jarrod Bowen caught the eye but failed to make the difference when given the opportunity as Blackburn beat Hull 1-0.

The winger saw a 13th-minute penalty saved impressively by Christian Walton after Jackson Irvine had been fouled by Bradley Johnson, who had earlier hit the crossbar with a header.

Kamil Grosicki then struck the post just past the half-hour mark, before Rovers' Stewart Downing fired against the frame of the goal twice not long before the interval.

Eventually the breakthrough came, Derrick Williams nodding in before Rovers held on despite Hull's late onslaught.

Leeds United capitalised on favourable results elsewhere to go top of the Championship on goal difference on Saturday.

Patrick Bamford scored both goals for Marcelo Bielsa's men in a 2-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic, who had Joe Williams sent off in the 21st minute.

Sheffield Wednesday enjoyed a numerical advantage for over 45 minutes in their match at Millwall but failed to muster a response to Matt Smith's first-half effort.

That result, coupled with Charlton Athletic's draw against Barnsley, opened the door to the Whites and means no team can boast a perfect record after three matches.

 

BAMFORD BRACE ERASES WIGAN WOE

Two tap-ins from former Chelsea forward Bamford helped Leeds exact a measure of revenge on Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The Latics derailed the Yorkshire club's promotion push last season when, with 10 men, they came from behind to claim a shock 2-1 win at Elland Road.

There was no repeat this time as the dismissal of midfielder Williams for two bookable offences only left the home side's defence prone to a pair of close-range Bamford finishes.

The goals arrived either side of half-time and improved the 25-year-old's season tally to three in as many matches.

 

MILLWALL MUSCLE PAST WEDNESDAY AS CHARLTON SNATCH POINT

Wednesday's winning start under interim boss Lee Bullen came to a disappointing end in a 1-0 defeat to a resilient Millwall.

Connor Mahoney crossed for towering striker Smith to nod home in the 37th minute and that was all Neil Harris' side needed despite losing Jed Wallace six minutes later.

The midfielder was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Kieran Lee but MIllwall held on to bank a second win, which moves them a spot above sixth-placed Wednesday.

Charlton would have taken over in first had they beaten Barnsley.

Instead, the Addicks had to make do with a point courtesy of Lyle Taylor's late leveller from the penalty spot in a 2-2 draw at Oakwell.

Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin twice gave Barnsley the lead, but Taylor held his nerve over the 89th-minute spot-kick to add to Conor Gallagher's earlier equaliser.

 

WAGHORN DENIES STOKE IN FOUR-GOAL DRAW

Stoke City and Derby County played out an entertaining 2-2 draw as Phillip Cocu avoided what would have been his first defeat in English football.

Cocu had Martyn Waghorn to thank, the striker converting a 70th-minute penalty to go with his early opener.

Liam Lindsay and Scott Hogan got on the scoresheet in between but Stoke were restricted to a point, their first of the campaign.

Derby are now eighth, two points adrift of third-placed West Brom, who rallied from a goal down to win 2-1 at Luton Town after Grady Diangana netted a second-half double.

The largest winning margin of the day saw Nottingham Forest cruise to a 3-0 triumph over Birmingham City.

Jamaica international Michael Hector is likely to be without regular first-team football until the next transfer window after deadline day moves to Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham collapsed.

The 27-year-old defender signed with Premier League club Chelsea in 2015 but has spent all his time on various loan spells.  Since signing for the Blues, at Stamford Bridge, the Jamaican has been loaned back to Reading to Frankfurt, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Having clearly found himself to not be a part of new manager Frank Lampard’s plans, Hector was in talks with Sheffield Wednesday over a permanent move a few days before the close of the summer window. 

Chelsea were, however, said to want £5 million for Hector, who recently entered the final year of his contract with the club for whom he has never played a competitive fixture. 

The player came close to joining Fulham on Thursday but that move fell through.  Fulham were hopeful of landing Hector before the window closed but couldn't as they were still waiting on the agreement for Ryan Sessegnon to be completed with Tottenham.

The Cottagers were then forced to go for other targets on loan in order to comply with FFP regulations.  Hector is, however, expected to join the club in the January window.

 

Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic were the only teams to maintain their 100 per cent records in the Championship, while Reading, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers again slipped to defeats.

Last season's relegated Premier League sides Cardiff City and Fulham both bounced back from disappointing starts with home victories, the Bluebirds beating Luton Town 2-1 and Scott Parker's side claiming a 2-0 win against Blackburn.

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate was furious after his side had two goals disallowed in a 1-0 home defeat to Brentford, Tommy Rowe's late equaliser earned Bristol City a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City and Preston North End beat Wigan Athletic 3-0.

Meanwhile, Leeds United, QPR, West Brom and Derby County, who all won their opening games, were held to draws by Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Millwall and Swansea City respectively.

GRABBAN DENIES LEEDS ANOTHER WIN

Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi was facing the prospect of starting the season with consecutive defeats until Lewis Grabban grabbed an equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Leeds, who dominated for long spells at Elland Road.

Marcelo Bielsa's men swept Bristol City aside in the first half an hour of their season opener but found themselves embroiled in a battle with an uncompromising Forest side determined to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at home to West Brom.

After Patrick Bamford hit the crossbar, it was playmaker Pablo Hernandez who put Leeds in front, latching onto Mateusz Klich's chipped pass over the defence and burying a shot into the far corner of the net for his second goal in as many games.

But Forest equalised with their only shot on target of the game, Grabban capitalising on a penalty-box scramble and bundling the ball over the line from close range.

TWO WINS IN TWO FOR BOWYER'S MEN

Lyle Taylor, who scored Charlton Athletic's winner in their opening-day victory over Blackburn Rovers, picked up where he left off by firing Lee Bowyer's Addicks into the lead at home against Stoke.

The Potters responded through Tom Ince, but the tireless work ethic of Bowyer's newly promoted side wore the visitors down.

Close-season signing Chuks Aneke slammed the ball into the bottom corner from close range after Josh Cullen's cut-back to make it 2-1 to the hosts, and Conor Gallagher put the result beyond doubt seven minutes from time.

OWLS OFF TO A FLYER

Loanee winger Jacob Murphy wasted little time endearing himself to the Hillsborough faithful, pouncing on a loose ball and side-footing Sheffield Wednesday into the lead after two minutes of the South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley.

The Owls carried the momentum of their victory at Reading into the game and withstood waves of pressure from a well-organised Barnsley side before doubling their lead through Steven Fletcher.

After Murphy's mazy dribble, Kieran Lee fed Fletcher and the Scotland international showed great technique with a finish into the bottom-right corner from outside the box.

FULHAM OFF THE MARK AS ROVERS FALTER

Blackburn were widely tipped to push on after finishing 15th in the Championship last season, but two games in they are still without a point following their home defeat to Charlton and a 2-0 reverse at Fulham.

Parker's side drew a blank when starting the season with a defeat at Barnsley but they went ahead against Rovers when former Blackburn midfielder Tom Cairney let rip from 25 yards.

Blackburn matched Fulham for much of the contest and Sam Gallagher squandered the chance to pull them level when he headed wide 14 minutes from time, moments before Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a tap-in.

Andy Carroll has returned to Newcastle United on a free transfer, eight and a half years after leaving the club in a British record deal.

The striker departed his hometown club for Liverpool in a £35million move in January 2011, having scored 33 goals in 91 games for Newcastle.

Carroll, then an England international, failed to fulfil his potential at Anfield and moved on to West Ham. He spent seven years in London, including an initial loan.

But injuries further rocked Carroll's progress and he was released by West Ham this close season after starting just three Premier League matches last term.

Talk emerged of an unlikely return to Newcastle and a one-year deal was sealed on Thursday ahead of the transfer deadline.

"It feels very good. My friends and family are here, and it's the club that I support – it is home," Carroll told the club's website.

"I enjoyed the time I spent here, and hopefully I can carry on where I left off. When I left eight and a half years ago, I was scoring goals and I was enjoying my football.

"It's been a pretty tough time since then and I just want to get back to that.

"I know it's home. I've played here, I've spoken to the fans, I am a fan, and my family is here. For me to get back to where I was, I think this is the only place for me."

It is reported past fitness concerns have seen Carroll agree to lower wages, with big bonuses for appearances and goals.

The 30-year-old is likely to provide back-up to record £40m buy Joelinton.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have sent winger Jacob Murphy to Sheffield Wednesday on a season-long loan.

Sheffield Wednesday have signed midfielder Massimo Luongo from Championship rivals Queens Park Rangers for an undisclosed fee.

The 42-cap Australia international spent four years with QPR and made 152 appearances in all competitions.

Luongo, who started his career at Tottenham before spells with Ipswich Town, Swindon Town and QPR, becomes Wednesday's fifth signing of the window.

He has been handed the number 21 shirt for the 2019-20 campaign and is in line to make his debut against Barnsley on Saturday.

Fulham and Cardiff City suffered defeats on their Championship returns on Saturday, as Charlton Athletic and Barnsley were victorious following promotion from League One.

Sheffield Wednesday also made a commendable start to the season with a 3-1 win at Reading, despite being without a permanent manager in the wake of Steve Bruce's departure to Newcastle United.

QPR beat a much-changed Stoke City 2-1 on the road, while Birmingham City also succeeded away from home, beating Brentford 1-0.

Millwall claimed a 1-0 victory at home to Preston North End and Hull City went down 2-1 away to Swansea City.

BLUEBIRDS DOWNED BY WIGAN

Cardiff's return to the Championship following Premier League relegation proved they are in for a testing campaign, as Wigan edged a five-goal thriller at the DW Stadium.

Joe Ralls volleyed the Bluebirds in front after 20 minutes and they remained ahead when Josh Windass hit the post with a penalty following a foul by Sean Morrison early in the second half.

Wigan levelled prior to the hour when a deflected free-kick fell to Michael Jacobs to turn home, before Windass made amends by rifling into the bottom-left corner.

Omar Bogle tapped in from close range against his former club in the 70th minute to equalise, but back came Wigan – Lee Evans finding the top-right corner with a screamer to seal the victory.

 

BARNSLEY MAKE IMPRESSIVE RETURN

Barnsley and Fulham were almost in two entirely different worlds last season, with one clawing their way up from League One and the other rubbing shoulders with the elite in the Premier League.

The only goal of their meeting at Oakwell came in the 13th minute, when debutant Luke Thomas beat his man and fired home from inside the box.

Barnsley had two lucky escapes past the hour mark, with Mads Andersen clearing efforts from Tom Cairney and then Floyd Ayite off the line, allowing the hosts to get off to a winning start.

 

LATE WIN DELIGHTS CHARLTON

Promoted via the play-offs, Charlton got off to a flying start in the Championship thanks to an applaudable 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers.

Ben Purrington opened the scoring just before the break, converting at the back post from Jonny Williams' delivery.

Blackburn levelled early in the second half in fortuitous fashion – Naby Sarr cleared a goal-bound effort off the line, only for it to hit goalkeeper Dillon Phillips and ricochet into the net.

But Lyle Taylor had the last laugh, applying a deft flicked finish to Jason Pearce's header, meaning none of the three promoted teams suffered defeat upon their returns to the Championship, with Luton Town drawing at home to Middlesbrough on Friday.

 

BULLEN'S OWLS SOAR

It was a turbulent close season for Sheffield Wednesday due to the saga surrounding Bruce's exit to Newcastle, but they looked sharp as they claimed an impressive 3-1 win away to Reading in their opening match under caretaker manager Lee Bullen.

Kadeem Harris put them ahead on the half-hour mark, but Yakou Meite's looping header restored parity in the 54th minute.

Wednesday swiftly retook the lead, however – Sam Hutchinson nodding in Barry Bannan's corner on his birthday for his first league goal since December 2016.

Keiren Westwood was sent off for clattering Modou Barrow in the 80th minute, but Lucas Joao wrapped things up late on for the visitors with a neat finish from the edge of the box.

Sheffield Wednesday have reported Newcastle United to the Premier League for their conduct concerning the appointment of Steve Bruce as head coach.

Bruce was announced as successor to Rafael Benitez at St. James' Park last Wednesday, with Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence confirmed as his assistants.

Wednesday were angry that the news was made public as they said there were still "outstanding legal issues to be resolved between the club and the staff and Newcastle United".

The Championship side have now approached the Premier League to begin an investigation.

In a statement released on Monday, they said: "Following Newcastle United's announcement on July 17, 2019 of its appointment of former Sheffield Wednesday staff Steve Bruce, Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, the club confirms that it has today reported Newcastle United's conduct to the Premier League.

"As the Premier League will now initiate and carry out investigations into the club's allegations, the club will not be commenting further on this matter whilst such investigations are ongoing."

Bruce has been in China to watch Newcastle against Wolves and West Ham in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

The Magpies meet Preston North End in their next pre-season friendly match at Deepdale on Saturday.

Sheffield Wednesday have hit out at Newcastle United for announcing Steve Bruce as their new head coach. 

The former Sunderland boss was confirmed as Rafael Benitez's successor on Wednesday on a three-year deal. 

Bruce and assistants Steve Agnew and Steve Clemence resigned from their roles at the Championship club on Monday in order to facilitate their move to St. James' Park. 

However, Wednesday claim there are "outstanding legal issues" to be settled with their former staff and Newcastle, so are therefore angry that a public announcement has been made about their appointments. 

"The club is disappointed to learn via public statement issued by Newcastle United that it has appointed former Sheffield Wednesday staff Steve Bruce, Steve Agnew and Steve Clemence," they said in a statement. 

"Regardless of the fact that the staff resigned from their positions with the club on Monday, there remains outstanding legal issues to be resolved between the club and the staff and Newcastle United. 

"The club is currently considering its position and taking the appropriate legal advice." 

Bruce, Agnew and Clemence are due to travel to China to meet up with the Newcastle squad for the Premier League Asia Trophy tournament. 

Newcastle United have confirmed the appointment of boyhood fan and ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce as their new head coach, replacing departed manager Rafael Benitez.

The Magpies had been searching for a new coach since Benitez's departure at the end of his contract last month and they have found their man in Bruce, who leaves Sheffield Wednesday after a short but impressive stint.

The former Manchester United captain was reported to have resigned from his role at Wednesday earlier this week, having confirmed talks with Newcastle.

Bruce's links to rivals Sunderland, where he was manager between 2009 and 2011, may not go down well with supporters who were already organising protests against owner Mike Ashley, but he has signed a three-year deal at St James' Park.

"I'm delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle United," Bruce said. "This is my boyhood club and it was my dad's club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family.

"There is a huge challenge ahead of us, but it's one that my staff and I are ready for. We'll roll our sleeves up and we'll be giving it everything from the off to ensure supporters have a successful team that they can be proud of."

Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, who were also at Wednesday, have been appointed as assistants to Bruce, and the trio will now travel to China to join the club's pre-season tour.

Newcastle had been linked with a variety of names in recent weeks, including Jose Mourinho, Steven Gerrard and Garry Monk, while Sam Allardyce says he rejected the opportunity to return to Tyneside.

A takeover has also been mooted, with the Bin Zayed Group from Dubai claiming to have agreed a deal with Ashley, but that has not yet come to pass.

The popular Benitez moved to China with Dalian Yifang after over three years at Newcastle, since continuing to complain about Ashley, with whom he was said to have a fractious relationship.

Newcastle's player of the year Salomon Rondon has returned to parent club West Brom since the end of last season, while top-scorer Ayoze Perez has also departed for Leicester City.

Midfielder Sean Longstaff has been widely linked with a move to Manchester United.

Newcastle United have confirmed the appointment of boyhood fan and ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce as their new head coach, replacing departed manager Rafael Benitez.

The Magpies had been searching for a new coach since Benitez's departure at the end of his contract last month and they have found their man in Bruce, who leaves Sheffield Wednesday after a short but impressive stint.

The former Manchester United captain was reported to have resigned from his role at Wednesday earlier this week, having confirmed talks with Newcastle.

Bruce's links to rivals Sunderland, where he was manager between 2009 and 2011, may not go down well with supporters who were already organising protests against owner Mike Ashley, but he has signed a three-year deal at St James' Park.

Steve Bruce has held talks with Newcastle United over their vacant managerial position, the Sheffield Wednesday boss confirmed.

Bruce is reportedly Newcastle's top target following the departure of Rafael Benitez at the end of his Magpies contract.

However, the former Sunderland manager says decisions are out of his control until negotiations are completed between the two clubs.

"Speculation is speculation. It's in the hands of the club," Bruce said after the Owls' pre-season victory over Lincoln City. "For me, at this particular moment, there is nothing really to talk about until the two clubs reach some sort of compromise.

"I've had a conversation [with Newcastle]. It's happening so quickly that I've got to take stock of the whole situation. It's in the hands of both clubs and we'll see what develops over the next 24 to 48 hours.

"The clubs have got to agree before any discussions and all the rest of it. Let's see what happens, I cannot really comment any more than that.

"Out of respect I thought it was only right to go and talk [to Newcastle], it was over with before it started, thankfully the chairman [Dejphon Chansiri] gave me permission to go and have a conversation.

"I don't really want to talk about dream jobs and all the rest of it, it's a bit pie in the sky at the moment, I'm the Sheffield Wednesday manager and I have to respect that.

"I've been very, very happy here, of course I have."

 

One Owls fan confronted Bruce in the dugout during Saturday's game but the manager, who saw a cabbage thrown his way by a disgruntled supporter while in charge of Aston Villa, shrugged off the incident.

"It was nothing really," Bruce added. "I think he expressed his opinion, shall we put it that way, very vocally. I think he'd had one or two beers too many."

Barcelona are in no rush in their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

Neymar, 27, is set to be fined by the Ligue 1 champions after failing to turn up for the first day of pre-season training.

With sporting director Leonardo confirming the Brazil forward can leave for the right price, Barca think they are in a strong position, and the Catalan giants are ready to play a waiting game.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN NO RUSH OVER NEYMAR

Barcelona are prepared to wait and see if PSG blink first over Neymar, according to a report from AS.

Neymar left Camp Nou for PSG in a world-record €222million move two years ago and it has now become clear he wants an exit from Parc des Princes.

In a strong position, Barca are remaining patient in their pursuit of the Brazil star, who has also been linked with their rivals Real Madrid.

Marca also report Barcelona are willing to wait, with PSG's asking price sure to continue dropping as the skilful forward continues to show his desire to leave.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are ready to give in to Ajax's demands over Matthijs de Ligt. Sport report the Serie A champions are planning to present the star defender on Saturday, having apparently agreed to pay the Eredivisie club €75m for the centre-back.

- Manchester United are increasingly confident about signing Leicester City defender Harry Maguire. The Daily Mail claim the Red Devils are hoping to land the centre-back for £75m, which is short of Leicester's reported £85m valuation.

- West Ham have begun searching for someone to replace Marko Arnautovic, who left for China. The Sun say the Premier League club have been offered the chance to sign free agent Mario Balotelli, while Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Hammers have also shown an interest in Juve forward Gonzalo Higuain.

- Mario Mandzukic could be set for a surprise return to Bayern Munich. Bild report the Juve striker has been discussed as a possible back-up for Robert Lewandowski and another wide option for head coach Niko Kovac.

- Everton continue to be linked with forwards and the Telegraph say the Premier League club expressed an interest in Lille's Nicolas Pepe, who is said to have been a target of rivals Liverpool. Meanwhile, the Sun claim Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is prepared to talk to the Toffees.

- Newcastle United seem close to finding their replacement for Rafael Benitez. According to the Daily Mail, Sam Allardyce has rejected a return to the club, with Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce now the favourite.

Rotherham United suffered relegation from the Championship on a day when Derby County gave their play-off hopes a huge boost.

The Millers succumbed to defeat at high-flying West Brom, meaning Millwall can afford to breathe easy going into their final two games.

At the top end of the table, the Rams claimed a potentially crucial victory over fellow play-off hopefuls Bristol City.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough kept pace with Frank Lampard's side courtesy of a come-from-behind win over lowly Reading.

MILLERS DOWN AND OUT

Having started the season among the favourites for the drop, Rotherham ultimately failed to overcome the odds.

But Paul Warne's side threatened an upset at The Hawthorns on Saturday, with Clark Robertson's header handing them a lead they held until the final 13 minutes.

The Baggies hit back with a quick-fire double through Jay Rodriguez from the spot and Rekeem Harper's strike.

That left the visitors four points behind 21st-placed Millwall – who drew 0-0 with Stoke City in the early game – with only one match left for the Yorkshire club.

Rotherham will join Ipswich Town and Bolton Wanderers – whose match with Brentford was postponed amid a player strike – in League One next season.

DERBY EDGE CLOSER

Derby headed to Ashton Gate just one point ahead of Bristol City, but a 2-0 win put them in the driving seat in the race for sixth place.

Lampard's men were on the back foot for long spells against the Robins, who fell behind to a Tom Lawrence goal.

The hosts' hopes of a turnaround were hindered by Antoine Semenyo's red card for a foul on Tom Huddlestone, with Jayden Bogle capitalising to double Derby's tally.

The Rams head to Swansea City in midweek before finishing the season at home to West Brom, while Lee Johnson's side – who are now winless in four – have Millwall and then Hull City.

 

PULIS KEEPS RAMS IN HIS SIGHTS

Middlesbrough are the side most likely to overtake Derby in the home straight, although Tony Pulis' men have just one game left.

Boro's 2-1 win over Reading saw them stay level with Derby on 70 points, with a goal difference that is six worse.

Lewis Wing cancelled out Danny Loader's fine finish before Britt Assombalonga netted the winner from a penalty.

The Royals had the consolation of being assured of safety courtesy of Rotherham's loss, although a far superior goal difference was always likely to keep them safe.

 

JOSTLING FOR POSITION

There were several games in which sides technically had nothing to play for, but that did not mean they were short on entertainment.

Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday shared a 3-3 draw in the pick of the bunch, while Hull came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Swansea.

Elsewhere, Birmingham City settled for a point at home to Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest won 1-0 at QPR, who would have equalised in the 88th minute had Nahki Wells not failed to convert from the spot.

Sheffield United claimed another big win in their bid for promotion from the Championship as they beat Hull City 3-0 to pile the pressure on Leeds United.

With Leeds facing Brentford in Monday's late fixture, the second-placed Blades moved three points clear of Marcelo Bielsa's side with a dominant display at KCOM Stadium.

Above them, Norwich City were held to a fourth successive draw, and with two games remaining, their lead has been reduced to just three points.

Play-off candidates Middlesbrough and Bristol City succumbed to defeats at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, and Derby County took the chance to move into the top six thanks to a Harry Wilson late show against QPR.

In the early game, Aston Villa beat Millwall to claim their 10th successive win, while at the other end of the table Wigan Athletic secured safety with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End.

BLADES SHARP AS THE RUN-IN HOTS UP

Having seen off Forest on Friday, Sheffield United took full advantage of playing before Leeds by dismantling Hull in a Yorkshire derby.

Chris Wilder's side took the lead 10 minutes in – David McGoldrick heading home unmarked from John Fleck's corner – and the Blades never looked back.

McGoldrick doubled his tally 12 minutes later, curling in an excellent finish from 25 yards out, with Enda Stevens capitalising on more slack Hull defending to effectively wrap up the points before half-time.

While securing automatic promotion will be the priority, United are just three points behind Norwich with two games – against Ipswich Town and Stoke City – still to come.

CANARIES' CELEBRATIONS STILL ON HOLD

A matter of weeks ago, it looked as though Norwich's charge to the title, and the Premier League, was a mere formality.

Now, however, after yet another draw, things look a bit more complicated for Daniel Farke's side. Depending on Leeds' result against Brentford, there could suddenly be a three-way tussle for not just promotion, but the title.

Norwich dominated proceedings for much of Monday's encounter at Stoke, with Onel Hernandez beating Jack Butland in the 24th minute.

But the hosts fought back through Ashley Williams' header, and though Teemu Pukki restored Norwich's lead, Thomas Edwards drew Stoke level once more to secure a share of the spoils, and delay the Canaries' promotion celebrations.

CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY HELPS DERBY

Derby moved into the final play-off spot thanks to a dramatic 2-0 triumph over QPR, though Frank Lampard's side relied on a contentious penalty to break the deadlock.

With 94 minutes played, referee David Webb harshly deemed that Luke Freeman had fouled Jayden Bogle, and Liverpool loanee Wilson made no mistake with a composed finish.

QPR rallied, with Pawel Wszolek seeing an effort hooked off the line, but the result was settled when Derby raced clear – Wilson tucking in his second in the 101st minute.

Derby's move into the play-off spots comes at the expense of Middlesbrough, who lost 3-0 at Forest, while Barry Bannan's stunner set Sheffield Wednesday up for a 2-0 win over Bristol, who drop to eighth.

VILLA MARCH ON, WIGAN SAFE

Villa seem to be hitting top form at just the right time, as they all but guaranteed a play-off place with a 1-0 win over Millwall – Jonathan Kodjia on target for Dean Smith's side.

Millwall's defeat handed Wigan a boost ahead of their clash with Preston, who had Ryan Ledson sent off as the Latics secured the points with goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans.

In the process, Wigan moved onto 48 points, enough to make sure of their Championship status for another season after Rotherham United lost at home to Birmingham City.

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