Two first half strikes from Billy Sharp and a second half header from Leon Clarke condemned Albion to a fifth home league defeat in a row on a chilly evening at the Pirelli Stadium.
Not even a stunning 25-yard equaliser from Matty Palmer, his first goal of the season, could inspire the Brewers to come from behind and win after Sharp had converted a self-won penalty just ten minutes in before clinically finishing past Bywater just three minutes after Albion had got themselves level.
A more vibrant and encouraging second half performance from the Brewers was dampened somewhat when Clarke, who bagged four goals on his last outing headed past Stepen Bywater late on to seal victory.
Having kept a clean sheet last time out sat Millwall Brewers boss stuck with a back four for the visitng of the high flying Blades. There were, however, two changes from the side that carved out a first away win of the season at The Den with Jamie Allen and Stephen Warnock drafted back into the side. Warnock came back in as a straight replacement for Tom Flanagan whilst Allen was brought into the midfield. With Luke Murphy deployed just in front of the back four in a holding role it gave Allen, Matty Lund and Matty Palmer a little more licence to get forward and support Marvin Sordell and Lloyd Dyer in attack.
The opening exchanges were somewhat lacking in quality as both sides played a cagey game trying to suss each other out. Albion almost carved out the first opening when Lund hooked the ball towards the back post where Lloyd Dyer could not quite get on the end of it.
However it was the Blades handed a chance to strike an early blow when they were awarded a penalty with just nine minutes on the clock. John Fleck tried to set skipper Billy Sharp free inside the box but the Sheffield striker was nudged off it by Kyle McFadzean, a little too forcefully in the opinion of referee Ollie Langford and SHARP was the man to step up and comprehensively beat Bywater from the spot.
Chris Basham headed the ball emphatically into the back of the net on 18 minutes from a corner but referee Langford had long since blown his whistle for a foul inside the six yard box.
Albion were almost punished by an old boy of theirs on 26 minutes when Mark Duffy took aim from outside the box but Buxton was in the way to deflect it wide of the target. Whilst this was going on Clough was having to prepare a substitution with Dyer sat on the half way line unable to continue. He was immediately replaced by Lucas Akins.
With a lack of width evident in the opening quarter of the game the switch allowed Albion to move to a 4-5-1 with Akins deployed out on the left hand side.
Albion were level just after the half hour mark with PALMER's stunner. There appeared little on when he picked up a pass from Sordell but on his wrong foot he took aim and fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Blackman's net.
The joy lasted just three minutes as raided quickly down their right and a through ball cut Albion's defence open to allow Sharp to calmly slot home. Things almost got even worse for the overstretched Brewers on 39 minute when in-form striker Leon Clarke only found the post with a curling effort from the edge of the box, the ball coming back to Bywater to mop up much to the relief of all those in yellow and black.
There was more injury worry for the Burton bench on 41 minutes when Warnock tried to halt a bquick break led by Clarke and was poleaxed just inside his own half. When he eventually got to his feet, rather gingerly, referee Langford was poised over him to administer a yellow card to add to his problems.
United's high energy pressing game was forcing Albion into mistakes and Duffy almost exploited space after receiving a pass as a result of the high press but his effort flew just too high. With the game in first half stoppage time United almost capitalised on a scramble in and around the edge of the box but the move ended with concerns over midfielder Paul Coutts who stayed down after getting his shot away and was eventually stretchered off to be replaced by John Lundstram.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-2 Sheffield United
Albion began more purposefully after the break and began to get some joy in the attacking third. Lund went close with a low drive as he latched onto a loose ball inside the box but a white shirt was there to block his path to goal as United held on to their lead.
United responded with another good spell of pressure just after the hour mark and once again it was Duffy at the heart of it. When he went down in the box after trying to trick his way past a couple of challenges there were anxious glances at the referee who was not interested in the slightest in awarding a second spot kick of the evening, much to the clear frustration of the winger.
Albion were almost gifted a second equaliser on 70 minutes when a loose pass out of defence was seized on by Akins who worked room for a shot but his effort was always rising from 20 yards out.
The introduction of Scannell for Allen injected some more pace out wide on the right for Albion but it was another quick raid from the visitors that put them two goals clear with just twelve minutes remaining. Fleck again managed to pick out a killer ball and the in-form Clarke was there to stoop and head past Bywater.
Will Miller was sent on for his first appearance since signing permanently from Spurs in the summer but it was another substitute, United's Welsh international midfielder David Brooks that went close to grabbing the next goal with a quick burst through before angling the ball just wide of the far post.
Neither side could fashion any more clear chances before the final whistle signalled United's return to the top of the Championship.