LONDON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Sheffield United's hopes of closing the gap at the top of the England's second-tier Championship were dashed with a 3-1 defeat at Millwall on Saturday.
The Yorkshire promotion chasers' push to join England's Premier League elite suffered a setback with struggling Millwall ending a six-match run with goals from Lee Gregory, Mahlon Romeo and Jake Cooper.
To complete the Blades' miserable afternoon, Bristol City beat Middlesbrough 2-1 in the late game, propelled by two goals in four second-half minutes from Joe Bryan and Jamie Paterson, to jump ahead of United into third place in the table.
Bristol City move on to 37 points, ahead of fourth-placed United on goal difference but still six behind second-placed Cardiff City.
Leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers, on 44 points, have the chance to open up a four-point advantage over Cardiff at the top by winning at Birmingham City on Monday.
With only the top two sides guaranteed a Premier League spot, victory over Birmingham would also see Wolves open up a 10-point gap over Bristol City and Sheffield United in that crucial race.
At the other end of the table, there was only more woe for Sunderland and their new manager Chris Coleman as they were reduced to 10 men before losing 3-1 to Reading at the Stadium of Light.
The ailing north-east giants, still looking for their first win at home for nearly a year, suffered after Callum McManaman was sent off just before halftime for a deliberate hand-ball, his second yellow card offence.
Reading took control with Modou Barrow striking twice in three minutes to ensure Sunderland have now gone 21 games without a home win.
They sit 23rd of the Championship's 24 clubs on 14 points, the same as bottom side Burton Albion, who lost 1-0 at Derby County. (Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Clare Fallon)