Ade Akinbiyi took just 12 minutes to open his Sheffield United account as the Blades beat managerless Derby.
The £1.75m signing from Burnley was on hand to convert Paul Ifill's cross from six yards on a miserable evening for the struggling Rams.
Michael Johnson was shown a red card for a robust tackle on Ifill in the second half.
Then Tommy Smith saw his penalty saved by the impressive Paddy Kenny after Chris Armstrong had handled.
Derby caretaker boss Terry Westley:
"It was a hell of a game with a lot of passion and a lot of desire from our players.
"The sending-off change the complexion of the game because tactically we had to think on the spot.
"I think we deserved something from the game. The commitment and desire was first class and it couldn't be faulted.
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock:
He denied his reaction to Johnson's challenge helped get the Derby player sent-off and said: "Referees don't change their minds because of things like that."
"It was a bad tackle. I don't see any need to tackle like that.
"I don't think it was a red card but there was no way Michael could get the
ball where he was."
Derby: Camp, Hajto, Michael Johnson, Moore, Edworthy, Smith, Bolder (Peschisolido 74), Idiakez, Barnes (Doyle 86), Holmes (Jackson 59), Graham.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Bisgaard.
Sent Off: Michael Johnson (57).
Booked: Idiakez, Holmes.
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Geary, Bromby, Short, Unsworth, Ifill (Gillespie 68), Jagielka, Tonge, Armstrong, Akinbiyi, Shipperley (Kabba 82).
Subs Not Used: Morgan, Quinn, Montgomery.
Booked: Armstrong, Geary, Gillespie, Jagielka.
Goals: Akinbiyi 12.
Ref: I Williamson (Berkshire).
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites