Kevin Phillips got Birmingham’s bid for a quick return to the Premier League off to a winning start as his injury-time strike sealed a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on Saturday.
Phillips came off the bench to break United’s stubborn resistance seconds before full-time at St Andrews with a neat turn and finish from Garry O’Connor’s flick.
It was the perfect way for the former England striker to mark his debut following a free transfer move from West Bromwich Albion.
Alex McLeish’s side are one of the favourites to win promotion from the Championship following their relegation last season, but they will have to improve on this unconvincing display.
United, who gave a debut to China midfielder Sun Jihai, frustrated them for long periods and can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken at least a point.
Derby’s miserable run under Paul Jewell continued as the Rams — relegated last season with just one league win — crashed to a 1-0 home defeat against Doncaster.
Jewell’s side set a record low points total in the top-flight last season and there was no improvement in their fortunes in their Championship opener.
Rovers are playing at this level for the first time in half a century but they showed no signs of being overawed as Lewis Guy poached a 59th minute winner.
QPR defender Fitz Hall scored the first double-strike of his career to give Iain Dowie’s side a 2-1 win over Barnsley.
QPR, backed by billionaire owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, are expected to figure in the promotion race so the Loftus Road faithful were stunned when Iain Hume gave Barnsley the lead in the fifth minute.
But Hall levelled after 29 minutes and lashed in a superb second two minutes later, before wasting a chance to clinch a first career hat-trick when his second half penalty was saved by Lee Steele.
Bristol City, beaten in the play-off final by Hull last season, needed an injury-time goal from Steve Brooker to steal a 1-0 win at Blackpool.
Sheffield Wednesday made a blistering start to the season with two goals in the first four minutes and eventually ran out 4-1 winners over Burnley at Hillsborough.
Marcus Tudgay and Akpo Sodje were on target before Burnley pulled one back through Martin Paterson in the sixth minute. The goal spree didn’t end there as Sodje grabbed his second in the 17th minute and Tudgay added a fourth in the 65th minute.
Southampton manager Jan Poortvliet suffered a frustrated debut as Cardiff defender Roger Johnson’s late goal condemned the Saints to a 2-1 defeat.
Dutch coach Poortvliet was on course to earn a gritty point from Ninian Park when David McGoldrick cancelled out Steven Thompson’s 41st minute, but Johnson stole the win in the 90th minute.
Mark Hudson’s debut goal put Charlton on course for a 2-0 win over newly-promoted Swansea at The Valley.
Hudson scored in the third minute and Andy Gray sealed the win in the 85th minute after Swansea’s Garry Monk was sent off for a second yellow card midway through the second half.
Elsewhere Coventry beat Norwich 2-0, Preston won 2-1 at Ipswich, Plymouth were held to a 2-2 draw by Wolverhampton and Crystal Palace shared a drab goalless draw with Watford.
Newcomers Nottingham Forest take on Reading at the City Ground on Sunday.
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