Substitute Ched Evans set up two goals on his second Sheffield United debut as they fought back from 1-0 down to beat Walsall in the EFL Cup first round.
Chris Wilder’s men fell behind to Amadou Bakayoko’s opener – his fourth goal in four matches against the Blades – and were toiling until Evans’ 52nd-minute introduction.
First his 74th-minute shot was deflected into his own net by Kory Roberts, and then he crossed for Nathan Thomas to score, before Daniel Lafferty added a third.
Erhun Oztumer made it 3-2 with an injury-time penalty.
The visitors took an unexpected 13th-minute lead when Oztumer beat the offside trap and squared for Bakayoko to side-foot home from six yards out.
The Blades, with 11 changes from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brentford, struggled to create anything of note with the returning John Brayford having a shot blocked by Roberts.
Evans was brought into the fray early in the second half and his effort brought the hosts level, with the unlucky Roberts chesting the striker’s shot into his own net.
The Welshman then set up fellow debutant Thomas, crossing from the byline for the former Hartlepool ace to ram home from close range five minutes later and Lafferty lobbed in a third minutes later.
Walsall pulled a goal back in injury-time, Oztumer scoring from the spot after sub Chris Basham was penalised for handball.
Report supplied by the Press Association.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: “Ched has come and gone ‘I’m back and I am going to make the most of this opportunity’ and he did.
“He gave everyone a lift, the team, the punters, as we hadn’t done enough to get them going tonight.
“We’re delighted with the reception he got and his contribution to the game was great. Players need to grab opportunities and that’s exactly what he did, while some others didn’t.
“Some players need to do better if they are to force their way into my thoughts and give me selection problems. I want what I had off Ched off all the players and I think they know that now.”
Walsall boss Jon Whitney: “The lads feel a bit of an injustice as for 75 minutes we were the better team. We played some really good football and forced them into a change of formation.
“But they scored three goals and that’s what they can do to you and that’s what Ched Evans can do – and he’s done it to us before, for Chesterfield.
“I was proud of that first 75 minutes, but individual decisions and game management let us down.
“Seeing out a 1-0 comes with experience and we haven’t got a lot of that in the team.”