Match ends, Derby County 3, Birmingham City 2.
Manager Phillip Cocu praised Derby's thrilling 3-2 win over Birmingham as special but said the club's off-field troubles in the past week meant there was "more at stake than just a game of football".
A torrid few days saw Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett charged with drink driving after a crash following a team-building night out on Tuesday, and captain Richard Keogh suffer a season-ending injury in the same incident.
Cocu left out Lawrence and Bennett against the Blues, while Curtis Davies replaced Keogh as skipper as the Rams earned just their second Championship victory of the season.
"It was a very difficult week," Cocu said, after Jamie Paterson's goal settled a topsy-turvy encounter that saw the Rams surrender a 2-0 lead.
"But it's more important how we deal with it as a club and for my part as a manager. I don't like excuses, brushing things under the carpet. We have to face it like it is.
"There was a little bit more at stake today than just a game of football.
"People make mistakes, so you have to accept it. There are consequences but we also have to stick together and go forward and play football because the game goes on.
"To get the win and the way we got it was special."
When attention switched away from non-football matters, supporters were treated to a pulsating game despite a tame first period.
Off-field issues were forgotten when Chris Martin, making his first Derby start since December 2017, coolly finished after good work by Duane Holmes.
But his second goal in two games was far from a prelude to an incident-packed half.
Blues had penalty shouts for handball dismissed before Martin should have made it 2-0 after more impressive approach play by Holmes.
The real drama came during a breathless second period, which came to life when Martin capitalised on a Marc Roberts slip to tee up Martyn Waghorn to slot in the second home goal.
Two goals in three minutes then changed the complexion completely by the 60-minute mark.
Gary Gardner headed Birmingham's first from a Jacques Maghoma corner and Croatia midfielder Ivan Sunjic levelled with his first goal for the club, a brilliant, measured strike from the edge of the box.
With the hosts looking in total disarray in defence, Krystian Bielik fouled Alvaro Gimenez, but Kelle Roos made a stunning stop to deny Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Paterson made the visitors pay, finishing off a fine counter-attack to end Derby's seven-game winless league run and earn Derby a first home win of the season after fine team move.
"A big win but also what a game. I'm proud of the reaction of the team and the mental strength they showed after the penalty to get the win," Cocu told BBC Radio Derby.
"It's vital to show what we showed today. What do we stand for? At the moment it's very important for us as a club."
Birmingham head coach Pep Clotet told BBC WM 95.6:
"I saw a massive commitment from the players and not only attitude but also I saw some really good things from the beginning to control the game.
"I saw a Birmingham side that I liked a lot today.
"Jutkiewicz is very good on the penalties and he was very good last season but it doesn't matter. I still think we could still have turned it anyway."
- 5BielikBooked at 45mins
- 46MaloneBooked at 90mins
- 23HolmesBooked at 44minsSubstituted forKnightat 90'minutes
- 11JozefzoonSubstituted forBogleat 72'minutes
- 19MartinSubstituted forMarriottat 71'minutes
- 20GardnerSubstituted forBellinghamat 76'minutes
- 19MaghomaSubstituted forVillalba Rodrigoat 76'minutes
- 24GiménezBooked at 22mins
- 17Villalba Rodrigo
- Simon Hooper
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Derby County 3, Birmingham City 2.
Scott Malone (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Scott Malone (Derby County).
Daniel Crowley (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Derby County. Jason Knight replaces Duane Holmes.
Attempt saved. Daniel Crowley (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Jayden Bogle.
Foul by Scott Malone (Derby County).
Daniel Crowley (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Jayden Bogle (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City).
Jamie Paterson (Derby County) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Daniel Crowley (Birmingham City).
Tom Huddlestone (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Harlee Dean (Birmingham City).
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Max Lowe.
Attempt blocked. Álvaro Giménez (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kristian Pedersen with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Jude Bellingham (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Maxime Colin (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.