Wayne Rooney helped fire Derby County to a 4-0 Championship win on Friday to check Stoke City’s resurgence under Michael O’Neill.
The Potters had claimed 10 of the previous 12 points available in league action under Northern Ireland manager O’Neill to kick clear of the relegation zone prior to the trip to Derby.
But Derby have been outstanding at Pride Park this term, losing just twice in the league, and a fourth straight home success was ultimately secured with ease.
Martyn Waghorn stooped to head in Craig Forsyth’s cross after 21 minutes, and Chris Martin slammed high past, Jack Butland, from Duane Holmes’ pass three minutes later.
Former England captain Rooney netted his first Derby goal in a defeat to Luton Town earlier in the week, but the 34-year-old made sure of victory this time with a delightful 20-yard free-kick midway through the second half.
There was time for the Rams to add further gloss to the scoreline, Rooney feeding substitute Jayden Bogle, who thrashed into the top-left corner.
Meanwhile, Friday’s other Championship fixture saw Reading hold Cardiff City to a 1-1 draw in the sides’ second of three meetings in 10 days.
Reading led through Yakou Meite after just eight minutes and protected their advantage until the 70th minute, as Callum Paterson rescued a point for hosts Cardiff.