Match ends, Sheffield United 1, Leicester City 2.
Jamie Vardy scored a 90th-minute winner for Leicester to break Sheffield United hearts and leave them in a perilous position at the bottom of the Premier League table.
The Blades looked set to secure only their second point of the season when Oli McBurnie scored his first of the campaign after Ayoze Perez had given the visitors the lead.
However, the Foxes never looked like wanting to settle for a point in their pursuit of a Champions League spot. With moments of the match remaining, James Maddison fed in Vardy, who scampered clear of the home defence and slotted his shot past Aaron Ramsdale.
The 33-year-old boyhood fan of Blades’ rivals Sheffield Wednesday celebrated by running to the corner flag and snapping it with his boot.
Earlier, Vardy and Maddison both came close with fierce efforts that struck the Blades’ right-hand upright.
Oliver Burke had United’s only other chance of note when he slipped with just Kasper Schmeichel to beat.
Last season must have seemed like a dream to some Blades supporters.
Chris Wilder’s men were among the European places for much of their first campaign back in the top flight before falling away in the home straight. However, few would have thought those tail-end results would be the first symptoms of ‘second-season syndrome’.
United still remain difficult to beat, having only twice lost by more than one goal in the league this season but it is at the other end where they have suffered – it was only four goals in 10 games with a conversion rate of 4.2% before Sunday’s game.
So when Burke fluffed his lines with just Schmeichel to beat midway through the first half, it seemed like Groundhog Day for the home side; the feeling exacerbated when Perez thrashed in the Foxes’ opener.
Spirits were lifted when McBurnie equalised soon after from a corner for his first in the competition in 15 appearances and after 20 efforts on goal. However, instead of building on that, the Blades reverted to type by focusing on soaking up pressure from their opponents.
Just when they thought Brendan Rodgers’ cavalier side had thrown everything at them, they were undone by the flashing blade that is Vardy.
It is now one point from a possible 33. Wilder has produced near miracles at the clubs he has managed, but surely this situation is impossible to turn around?
Leicester will no doubt be glad for the respite from their Europa League-Premier League schedule that will follow their match at home to AEK Athens this Thursday.
However, unlike Burnley, whose form suffered when they tried to cope with their European experience in 2018-19, the Foxes have enough depth in their squad to field two strong XIs.
Leading hitman Vardy was one of the four senior players left out from the 4,000-mile round trip to Ukraine last week to face Zorya Luhansk, and his team benefitted from his freshness at Bramall Lane.
The forward was very unlucky not to score in the 10th minute as his strike thundered off the Blades’ left-hand upright, but his fizz never fell flat and there was only one winner when he raced clear to clip in the winning goal.
His unpredictable movement had the Blades constantly guessing as did that of Perez, who was in the perfect spot to smash home the opener after Marc Albrighton’s initial effort was blocked. Maddison also impressed in midfield and, like Vardy, saw his great strike rebound off the post.
The one negative for Rodgers was that his side’s Achilles flared up again when for the eighth time this season they conceded from a set-piece.
Leicester face AEK Athens in their final Europa League group match on Thursday (20:00 GMT) before they host Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday (19:15). United are at Southampton next Sunday (12:00).
Match ends, Sheffield United 1, Leicester City 2.
Second Half ends, Sheffield United 1, Leicester City 2.
Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Wesley Fofana.
Substitution, Leicester City. Dennis Praet replaces James Maddison.
James Maddison (Leicester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City).
George Baldock (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
VAR Decision: Goal Leicester City – Sheffield United 1-2 Leicester City (Jamie Vardy).
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Goal! Sheffield United 1, Leicester City 2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Maddison with a through ball.
Offside, Sheffield United. Oliver McBurnie tries a through ball, but Rhian Brewster is caught offside.
Foul by Christian Fuchs (Leicester City).
Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Sander Berge.
Offside, Sheffield United. Aaron Ramsdale tries a through ball, but Rhian Brewster is caught offside.
Marc Albrighton (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Kean Bryan (Sheffield United).
Substitution, Sheffield United. Rhian Brewster replaces Oliver Burke.
Offside, Sheffield United. Sander Berge tries a through ball, but Oliver Burke is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Christian Fuchs (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Wilfred Ndidi.