Chris Coleman suffered defeat in his first game as Sunderland manager as they fell to promotion-hopefuls Aston Villa in Tuesday's Championship clash.
The 47-year-old, who left his post as Wales head coach to take over at the Stadium of Light this week, could not prevent a 2-1 defeat at Villa Park that leaves Sunderland deep in the relegation mire.
Coleman's old club Fulham denied Sheffield United the chance to go top of the table as they won a nine-goal thriller at Bramall Lane, while Cardiff City climbed into second place and Derby County got back to winning ways.
Norwich City and Bristol City had disappointing results, Reading snatched a draw at Bolton Wanderers and there were stalemates between Millwall and Hull City, and Brentford and Burton Albion.
COLEMAN FACES HUGE TASK AT SUNDERLAND
The appointment of a new manager could not galvanise Sunderland enough as they went down 2-1 against Aston Villa.
Albert Adomah's third goal in two games and a deflected strike from Josh Onomah were enough for the home side, who moved into fourth in the table.
Lewis Grabban gave Sunderland a lifeline in the second half but they could not muster the equaliser that would have taken them to within three points of safety.
It could have been worse for Coleman and the Black Cats had relegation rivals Bolton not surrendered a two-goal lead against Reading, with Liam Moore and Leandro Bacuna scoring in the final 14 minutes at the Macron Stadium to keep the hosts in the bottom three.
Burton moved a point nearer to 21st-placed Birmingham City with a 1-1 draw at Brentford, although Ben Turner's equaliser was not enough to lift them out of the relegation zone.
Millwall and Hull edged away from the drop with a 0-0 draw.
SESSEGNON STOCK RISES AS FULHAM BLUNT BLADES' PROMOTION HOPES
The game of the day took place at Bramall Lane as Fulham claimed a stunning 5-4 win over Sheffield United to prevent the Blades from going top.
Leon Clarke put the hosts ahead before goals from Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Sessegnon made it 2-1 to the visitors, with the 17-year-old scoring again before half-time to keep his side in front after Clarke had snatched a quick equaliser.
Ojo got his second after 69 minutes and the highly rated Sessegnon clinched his hat-trick to make it 5-2, but Samir Carruthers struck in the 86th minute and Clarke completed his own treble in stoppage time to set up a nervy finish.
Fulham held on for a win that takes them above Norwich into 14th place, though, and United's spirits were further dampened with the news that Cardiff had leapfrogged them to go second thanks to Callum Paterson's solitary goal away to Barnsley.
BRISTOL CITY SLIP UP AS DERBY INCH INTO PLAY-OFF PLACES
Bristol City's promotion hopes took a hit as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat to Preston.
Paul Gallagher and Callum Robinson sealed the visitors' first win since September 26 at Ashton Gate, despite a late strike from Cauley Woodrow.
The loss saw them drop below Villa in the table and allowed Derby to close to within two points thanks to their 2-0 victory at home to QPR.
Nottingham Forest are very much in the hunt for the top six, too, with Daryl Murphy's second-half goal giving them a 1-0 win over Norwich that leaves them two points behind Derby, having played a game more.
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