Teenager Louie Sibley’s superb hat-trick capped a sensational performance and earned Derby County a vital win over fellow play-off chasers Millwall as Championship football returned after a three-month absence.
The 18-year-old showed fine close control, weaving through the home defence to cancel out Matt Smith’s headed opener to leave the scores level at the break.
Sibley’s cool first-time finish from Martyn Waghorn’s measured pass made it 2-1 and he completed his treble on just his second league start with another low first-time finish.
Lions substitute Jon Dadi Bodvarsson scrambled in an injury time effort from close range to give hope of an unlikely point, but they could not deny the Rams, who move level on points with their hosts and just two points adrift of the top six.
Millwall’s willingness to surrender possession and territory paid off early on but the Rams were the more fluid and ambitious side throughout.
Wayne Rooney’s experience allowed the youthful midfield of Sibley, Max Bird, Duane Holmes and Tom Lawrence to raid forward at will and they tormented the home defence for long periods.
Their best chances came on the break, with Mahlon Romeo and Ryan Leonard both going close, but Sibley could easily have ended up with six goals.
More to follow.