A stoppage-time free-kick from Morten Gamst Pedersen saw Blackburn Rovers defeat a plucky Sheffield United 2-1 at Ewood Park.
Defeat was harsh on the visitors who had looked set to claim a well-earned point after Ewood Park old boy Jon Stead had immediately cancelled out Pedersen's first-half strike.
Rovers looked uncertain in defence in the opening exchanges and United had two glorious opportunities to claim a lead inside ten minutes.
Rob Hulse turned and saw a shot deflected on to a post and Nick Montgomery volleyed wide inside the area when he really should have done better.
Stead shot over the bar but the only noteworthy incident from an attacking sense for Rovers had been a 17th minute injury to Matt Derbyshire - the striker being replaced by the returning Jason Roberts.
With little warning, Rovers claimed the lead in the 22nd minute. Brett Emerton cut inside on the right-hand edge of the area and delivered a cross for Pedersen to head past Paddy Kenny from six yards.
Within three minutes United were level as Stead scored on his return to Ewood Park. The two Blades striker combined in style - Hulse flicking on and Stead, having shrugged off the attentions of full debutant Christopher Samba, fired past Brad Friedel.
Pedersen should have restored Rovers' lead ten minutes before half-time but the normally assured striker dragged his shot wide after running on to Ryan Nelsen's ball over the top.
The peep of referee Andre Marriner's whistle punctuated the remainder of the half with the high number of free-kicks an indicator of the competitive edge to the game, even if it was not conducive to free-flowing football.
Rovers had the greater share of play in the second half. Superb skill from David Bentley saw the midfielder close on goal but Kenny was equal to the winger's shot.
An impressive overhead kick from Hulse flashed just wide of goal at the other end, but the tempo had dropped after a frantic first half.
The roof was raised though when David Dunn was reintroduced for his second Rovers debut on the hour - the midfielder taking the field in place of Aaron Mokoena.
Roberts and Benni McCarthy combined but the former shot wide, while Bentley crossed for Pedersen to head at goal but straight at Kenny.
Hughes introduced a third striker in Shabani Nonda, as Rovers pressed but United had their moments too - Stephen Quinn volleyed over from the edge of the area, while Samba cut out Stead's cross when danger threatened.
Rovers were reduced to ten men after Stephen Warnock was shown a second yellow card on his home debut following a foul on Derek Geary but claimed the winner after Dunn was brought down on the edge of the area and Pedersen stepped up to curl in a sumptuous left-footed free-kick.