Match report: Millwall 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Owls scorer Miguel Llera with Lewis Buxton.
Owls scorer Miguel Llera with Lewis Buxton.
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CHRIS Maguire exploded on the Wednesday scene with a classic, dramatic winner last night.

The striker who has had to wait and wait for his chance lifted the Owls above Millwall and up to 53 points by volleying home in injury time.

It was a great moment for the sub who was making only his fifth league appearance for the club and has yet to start a Championship game for them.

Earlier Miguel Llera was the man that a hostile Millwall crowd loved to hate last night and earned fresh adulation from Owls fans after taming the Lions for the second time this season.

The centre half scored two in the 3-2 victory against the FA Cup semi-finalists at Hillsborough and put Wednesday back in the New Den clash thanks to one of his free-kick specials.

The Owls made a shocking start, going one down with just over a minute on the clock. Their left flank was opened up by a run from right winger Chris Taylor; his low ball into the box found midfielder Jimmy Abdou running in unmarked to slot home.

Chris Kirkland had to be alert to prevent a second goal in the 12th minutre. He smothered the ball at the feet of Rob Hulse just inside the area after the ex-United striker was let in by a ricochet.

Millwall played the slicker football for 20 minutes without doing any damage, while the Owls’ attempts to get forward, with Leroy Lita and Steve Howard up front and Jeremy Helan attempting to make runs, tended to come up against some solid defending, from centre half Danny Shittu and right back Alan Dunne in particular.

But David Forde was forced into a good save in the 29th minute. Lewis Buxton, having an eye-catching game in this period, launched a left-side free kick; Miguel Llera headed it down, Seyi Olofinjana laid the ball off, and Howard hammered in a shot that was pushed by the keeper past his left-hand post. Mark Beevers could have had a goal against his old club three minutes later but headed a corner wide at the near post.

Wednesday were right back in it after Llera’s terrific free kick in the 40th minute.

The shooting opportunity came after a foul by George Saville on Llera for which the midfield was booked.

It brought back memories of Llera’s goal at Huddersfield last season. From 31 yards, he whipped a low left-foot effort into the bottom corner, this time to the keeper’s right. The Spaniard dashed to the touchline to celebrate with sub Jose Semedo then others.

The Owls survived a close-range shot from Taylor that went straight at Kirkland and home uproar as Anthony Gardner, the last defender, challenged Jermaine Easter and the striker went down. No foul, said the ref and linesman, and Gardner’s angry reaction towards Easter suggested than he believed the forward had dived.

Early in the second half Prutton had a volleyed cleared from goalmouth and Easter half-volleyed just wide after a knockdown from Beevers.

Then two saves in as many minutes by Chris Kirkland kept the Owls level: he stopped firm low drives from Easter and Taylor.

It was the keeper to the rescue again in the 74th minute, as he dived to keep out an overhead kick by Sean St Ledger. Jermaine Johnson, on as a sub, relieved pressure with a counter-attacking run down the inside-right channel and fired narrowly wide of the far post.

A foul on Buxton was perilously close to the penalty area, amid late pressure by Wednesday that led to the winner in the third of four added minutes. Danny Pugh swung in a corner from the right and Maguire, in the near-post area, hooked a splendid right-foot volley into the roof of the net.

There were surprises in the Wednesday team, with JJ only on the bench and no sign of Reda Johnson or Giles Coke, who have had foot troubles in recent weeks, or Stuart Holden, who played for 59 minutes of the 3-2 win against Blackburn.

The four changes saw recalls for Pugh, Kieran Lee, David Prutton and Steve Howard.

*LIONS: Forde 7, Dunne 7, Shittu 8, Beevers 7, St Ledger 6, Lowry 7, C Taylor 7, Abdou 6, Saville 6 (Henry 56, 6),

Easter 7 (Keogh 79), Hulse 7 (Batt 56, 7). Subs: M Taylor, Woolford, J Smith, A Smith.

*OWLS: Kirkland 8, Buxton 8, Llera 8, Gardner 7, Pugh 7, Lee 6, Prutton 7, Olofinjana 6, Helan 7 (Maguire 81), Lita 6

(J Johnson 63, 7), Howard 6. Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Semedo, Mattock, McCabe.

*Referee: Phil Gibbs (W Midlands).

*Goals: Abdou (2), Llera (40), Maguire (90+3).

*Attendance: 9,084 (1,028 away).

*Bookings: Saville, Olofinjana, Gardner.