Sheffield United made it two league victories on the spin after a John Fleck brace was enough to see off Aston Villa by two goals to nil.
The Blades, who were triumphant at Norwich last time out, rise to fifth in the table and now boast an impressive 25 points from 17 games on their top flight return.
It was by no means straight forward for Chris Wilder’s men, with the early stages producing very little in the way of clear-cut chances.
Whilst United enjoyed the Lion’s share of possession, the desired final ball continued to evade them – goalless at the interval.
With the words of boss Wilder still echoing, the steel city boys came out of the blocks like a side reborn.
Just four minutes old was the second period when introvert work by the long-serving Chris Basham slipped in John Lundstram, who fed his namesake Fleck to smash home from close range.
It would be a sign of things to come; Lundstram giving Villa’s Matt Targett a torrid time out wide on many an occasion thereafter.
Down went the heads of the visitors as one-way traffic persisted and the result soon became out of reach as David McGoldrick picked out Fleck in delightful fashion for his and Sheffield United’s second.
VAR reared its ugly head once more 13 minutes from time, adjudging United defender John Egan to have handled the ball in the area.
Up stepped the industrious Jack Grealish, whose effort cannoned off the crossbar to the joy of 28,000 Blades, and prompting a chorus of “it’s not football anymore” to resonate around Bramall Lane.
Villa in truth never looked like scoring, nor even troubling Dean Henderson as he registered his sixth clean sheet of the campaign.
It might have been the perfect afternoon for Fleck, missing out on a rare hat trick thanks to the last-ditch interventions of Bjorn Engels.
McGoldrick meanwhile was unable to cap an excellent display with an oh so warranted goal in the dying embers of the game, the 32-year-old settling instead for a standing ovation.
Sheffield United manager, Chris Wilder, said:
“There’s a lot of talk about raising your game against the big guns, but three points are at stake no matter who it is you’re playing.
“We had to be patient, keep doing the things to break them down. I was just amazed at the energy of our lads.
“I’ve always believed that this group of players deserved the opportunity in this division. You need to play well to get into our team, and you’ll have to play well to stay in it.”
Aston Villa boss, Dean Smith, said:
“I think there were three shots on target all game, two of those ended up goals.
“I’m annoyed simply because we’re better than we showed – they’ve taken their chances, we haven’t.
“What disappointed me was how we didn’t manage the ball better against a team that can get into your face.
“Let’s have some perspective, we’ve lost three games against sides in the top 10. It’s a tough league.”
Sheffield United: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell Basham, Lundstram, Egan, Norwood (Bešić ’86) McGoldrick (Osborn ’90), Mousset (McBurnie ’61)
Subs not used: Freeman, Sharp, Jagielka, Moore
Aston Villa: Heaton, McGinn, Lansbury (Douglas Luiz ’66), Wesley (Kodjia ’69), Grealish [c], Nakamba, Targett, El Ghazi (Trézéguet ’80), Engels, Guilbert, Hause
Subs not used: Taylor, El Mohamady, Konsa, Nyland
Referee: Peter Bankes
Sheffield United: Norwood, Fleck
Aston Villa: Hause, Targett
Sheffield United: Fleck (’49, ’73)
Man of the Match: John Fleck