BILLY SHARP’S third goal in as many games saw Sheffield United steal all three points in stoppage time.
It looked like Norwich would force United to share the spoils but Sharp had other ideas, bundling the ball home with just seconds left for a 2-1 win.
Centre-back John Egan put the Blades in front on nine minutes before Sheffield Wednesday loanee Jordan Rhodes levelled before half-time.
And Sharp made sure this was the afternoon that United recorded their first home win of the season as his stoppage time winner left Norwich no chance to reply.
Sharp’s recent form could simply not be ignored, with Chris Wilder rewarding his skipper with the task of leading the line in a search for those coveted three points.
His late winner here ensured it was back-to-back league wins after last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over QPR.
Liverpool loanee Ben Woodburn and Ollie Norwood, who impressed on his debut in the Blades’ 5-4 penalty shootout defeat to Hull in the League Cup, were given their full home league debuts in red and white.
For Norwich, who were without a win in their opening two Championship matches, Jordan Rhodes, on-loan from United’s rivals Wednesday, was hoping to show his parent club exactly what they’re missing out on.
As a virus swept through the Sheffield United camp this week, subsequently ruling out Mark Duffy after he felt unwell in Tuesday’s fixture, there was a twinge of uncertainty about how many players would be passed fit.
But it took just nine minutes for the Blades to get up and running as centre-back John Egan peeled from his marker at a corner to loop in a header at the back post.
The goal was given thanks to Hawk Eye and despite the Canaries’ admirable efforts to clear from underneath the bar.
It was the perfect start and as the Kop began to burst into song, Wilder acknowledged with a thumbs up. He enjoyed that one.
That’s partly because of Norwich’s antics when they narrowly beat the Blades 1-0 at the Lane last season, from turning up late, not handing in a team-sheet, and for keeping United waiting at the start of the second-half.
But all was temporarily forgotten thanks to Egan’s first goal in red and white.
Rhodes had the best chance to level for an otherwise toothless Norwich, but his header from Ben Marshall’s in-swinging corner had too much power on it and dropped wide.
He didn’t need a second invitation though and after some tricky work by Hernandez on the wing, the frontman swept home from a couple of yards out to equalise. He celebrated by standing in front of the Kop end with his hands aloft, much to the displeasure of the onlooking Unitedites.
The celebrations were almost cut short, though, when Woodburn’s cross found Leon Clarke who would’ve levelled but for the feet of Tim Krul standing in his way.
It’s just not quite falling for Clarke at the moment, a player who netted 19 goals in all competitions last term.
O’Connell’s acrobatic effort at the back-post five minutes after the interval almost kicked the Blades back into life as United attempted to reaffirm the grip that had undeniably loosened since Rhodes’ tap-in.
Wilder sniffed an opportunity and opted for a flat four at the back with Basham moving across to right-back after Kieron Freeman was removed. Fleck, Norwood and Ryan Leonard, who came on for Woodburn at half-time, made up the middle three with substitute David McGoldrick playing slightly behind Clarke and Sharp up top.
It was a sign of intent but it left the Blades a little bit open and, even though he clearly looked offside, Moritz Leitner ran through one-on-one and was denied by an outstanding save from Dean Henderson. Bramall Lane was incensed that the flag wasn’t raised.
While the Blades had Henderson to praise, they were soon thanking the post as the woodwork denied Rhodes’ header before Teemu Pukki spooned his follow-up from four yards.
Egan had an opportunity to net his second of the game when another impressive ball in from Norwood found the centre-back, only for his power header to fall inches wide of the far post. It was unbelievably close.
Leon Clarke had a chance late on but such as his luck in front of goal it was well blocked, and Ben Marshall’s free-kick clipped the top of the wall.
And while it looked like United had to settle for a point, up stepped the leader, Billy Sharp, to prod home in injury time and send Norwich home empty handed.
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Freeman (McGoldrick, 61’), Norwood, Fleck, Woodburn (Leonard, 46’), Stevens, Sharp (C) (Stearman, 90+4), Clarke. Subs not used: Lundstram, Lafferty, Moore, Lavery.
Norwich City (4-1-4-1) Krul; Marshall, Hanley (C), Klose, Lewis; Tettey (Godfrey, 90; Trybull, Pukki (Srbeny, 87’), Leitner (Stierpermann, 78’), Hernandez; Rhodes. Subs not used: Zimmermann, McGovern, Thompson, Aarons.
Referee: Darren Bond
Bookings: Sheffield United: None
Norwich City: Trybull, Pukki,
Scorers: Sheffield United: John Egan (9’), Billy Sharp (90+2′)
Norwich City: Jordan Rhodes (26’)
HT score: 1-1
FT score: 2-1
Man of the Match: Ollie Norwood (Sheffield United)