Leeds United extended their advantage at the top of the Sky Bet Championship table with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road.
Their closest Championship title rivals, Norwich City, also had a late fightback of their own at home to Nottingham Forest, as three goals in the final 15 minutes rescued them a 3-3 draw.
Sheffield United have moved up to fourth in the table as their 3-1 win over play-off rivals over Derby County at Bramall Lane. That win saw them climb above the Rams and Middlesbrough, who were beaten 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium by Sheffield Wednesday.
Millwall’s 1-0 victory over a Reading side that finished with nine men at The Den has moved the Lions out of the Championship’s bottom three and a point clear of safety.
Bolton Wanderers’ disastrous run of 13 matches without three points came to an end yesterday as a 2-1 win at the University of Bolton Stadium against Rotherham United moved them to within a point from moving out of the relegation zone.
Here is who made our Championship Team of the Week for the first round of fixtures in the second half of the season, based on match rating statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Goalkeeper: Orjan Nyland (Aston Villa) 8.76
Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory away at Swansea City moved them to within three points of the play-off places. Their Norwegian goalkeeper made five saves to win his third star man award of the season and kept his sixth clean sheet of the Championship campaign in the process.
The highlight of his performance came in the final moments, as his save to deny substitute Wilfried Bony’s late spot-kick ultimately earned Dean Smith’s side two wins over the Swans in the same season for the first time since the 1971/72 campaign.
Defender: Reece James (Wigan Athletic) 8.14
Wigan Athletic’s teenage defender Reece James may have been on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, but that didn’t prevent him from putting in a superb performance.
The 19-year-old who is currently on loan from Chelsea made six tackles, four key passes and saw his late free-kick denied only by the woodwork.
Defender: Mark Beevers (Bolton Wanderers) 8.32
Centre-back Mark Beevers was Bolton’s star man during their win over Rotherham, winning 10 aerial duels.
He also made a staggering 16 clearances and five interceptions as Bolton had to fight hard to prevent Rotherham from leaving Greater Manchester with a point.
Defender: Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers) 8.58
Blackburn centre-back Charlie Mulgrew’s second-half brace looked almost certain to secure three points for Tony Mowbray’s side away at Leeds.
Mulgrew’s two goals, the second of which came from the penalty spot, took his tally to seven for the season in the Championship, making him the division’s top goalscoring defender.
Midfielder: Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City) 8.17
Jacques Maghoma’s first-half goal helped Birmingham City to a 2-0 victory over Stoke City as Potters manager Gary Rowett fell to a defeat against his former side.
Maghoma made two key passes, four tackles and completed a higher percentage of passes than any other Blues player as he netted his fourth league goal of the season.
Midfielder: Jackson Irvine (Hull City) 8.28
Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine got his first two goals for Hull City since September as they beat Preston North End 2-1 at Deepdale.
Irvine also won five aerial duels and his performance earned him only his second match rating over eight out of 10 this term, with his other coming after scoring a brace away at Rotherham in August.
Midfielder: Mario Vrancic (Norwich City) 8.58
Norwich midfielder Mario Vrancic kick-started Norwich’s late fightback at Carrow Road with his second home goal in as many appearances.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international completed two key passes, won four tackles and made two interceptions to make him Norwich’s highest-rated player.
Midfielder: Matty Cash (Nottingham Forest) 9.33
Forest winger Matty Cash netted twice to pick up this week’s Player of the Week award in their six-goal thriller with Norwich.
The Tricky Trees were certain to have picked up three points in East Anglia if it wasn’t for the Canaries’ inspired late comeback.
Midfielder: Onel Hernandez (Norwich City) 8.27
Onel Hernandez featured as a second-half substitute and made stoppage time his own at home to Forest.
The 25-year-old scored in the third and seventh minutes of additional time to rescue a point for Daniel Farke’s side, taking his goal tally for the season up to five in all competitions.
Striker: Kemar Roofe (Leeds United) 8.58
As the game fell into stoppage time, it looked almost certain that Mulgrew’s late penalty snatched three points for the visitors at Elland Road, but Kemar Roofe had other ideas.
The 25-year-old’s duo of stoppage time efforts earned Leeds the win, extending their advantage at the top of the table and taking his total for the league campaign up to 13, a number only bettered by Brentford’s Neal Maupay and Forest striker Lewis Grabban.
Striker: Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion) 8.67
Baggies striker Jay Rodriguez got both of Darren Moore’s side’s two goals to close their deficit on the top two to just three points.
His goals in both sides of half-time, as well as his two key passes, helped West Brom to extend their current unbeaten run to eight matches.