WEDNESDAY stretched Dave Jones’s unbeaten record as manager to 15 games last night with some first-class football and a blend of old and new.
Reda Johnson added a second goal in successive matches to the seven he grabbed last season and provided the assist that allowed Rodri to make a sparkling start to his English career.
Johnson scored in the 14th minute with another close-range header, and the man from Barcelona drilled a shot into the bottom corner just before half time.
Wednesday bossed the first half, looking every inch a Championship side.
Although the Blues improved in the second half, a late strike by Jermaine Johnson sealed a deserved victory.
An injury-time penalty by Marlon King - the last kick of the game - created a scoreline that flattered the away side.
Rodri also missed a great chance in the second minute.
The chance was fashioned by the two Johnsons, and Reda picked out the newcomer with a low ball from the left.
But instead of shooting with his left foot the on-loan Barcelona striker opened up his body, tried to steer the ball into the keeper’s bottom left-hand corner with his right foot and put it wide from six yards.
When 12 minutes later Reda Johnson headed home, he could scarcely miss.
Jack Butland, who was Team GB’s keeper at the Olympics, could only only push a right-wing cross by Michail Antonio on to the head of the left back and he nodded into an empty net. But a pattern of recent games was repeated as Chris Kirkland steadied the ship with a first-class save, beating away a shot from Steven Caldwell after a long free kick reached the centre back in the Kop-end box.
Reda Johnson should have made it 2-0 in the 24th minute.
A left-side corner from Rhys McCabe was spot on and the defender, charging in, headed past the angle from six yards.
Jones’ remark on Saturday that his players had nothing to fear in the Championship was being proved right as the Owls played with confidence and calmness and looked the better side, as they had done in the second half at Derby.
Jones made two changes to the side that started that 2-2 draw. Rodri came in up front for Nejc Pecnik, and Mark Beevers replaced the injured Anthony Gardner.
Michail Antonio made himself a shooting opportunity, cutting in from the left, but drilled it wide of the near post.
Rodri showed composure and elegance on the ball, never more so then when he got off the mark with an impressive goal.
Two minutes before his strike he had received an inevitable booking for an over-exhuberant late challenge on centre-half Steven Caldwell.
Groans from the crowd at the sight of the yellow card were replaced by the roar after he took a fine forward ball from Reda Johnson, ran at Caldwell on the left side of the box, and made himself a yard of space to fire a low drive into the far corner from a narrow angle.
The Spaniard celebrated with a backward somersault and moments later Hillsborough’s new song rang out: “Ole, ole, ole, ole, Rodri, Rodri.”
Wednesday dominated the first half, keeping possession and dictating the pace. All Birmingham could manage at the business end were some long-range shots.
Blues boss Lee Clark reacted at half time by taking off a midfield player, Wade Elliott, and sending on giant Nikola Zigic to partner Marlon King, who had been playing on his own up front.
Kirkland swiftly had to make another save, touching King’s follow-up over the bar after winger Nathan Redmond had a shot blocked.
Birmingham’s best chance yet came in the 56th minute. Right winger Chris Burke, a speedy menace in the second half, was sent clear by a long ball but blasted his shot across goal.
Rodri received a tumultuous reception when he was taken off, perhaps having begun to feel the pace and with Dave Jones having already appealed for him to be given consideration while he settles into the English game.
A minute after the striker’s departure Kirkland pulled off a terrific stop to beat away a King drive.
Birmingham were more of a threat in the second half, and obviously had to go for it, but Jermaine Johnson was denied an exciting goal after a long sprint for goal when Caldwell produced a great tackle.
Back came the Blues to make life just a bit more uncomfortable for the Owls. A cross by left-back David Murphy went all the way across the box and Zigic, lurking unmarked at the far post, smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
But Wednesday kept their heads, and the third goal was merited. Jermaine Johnson sped away down the middle to finish emphatically.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, King put away the spot-kick after a foul on Burke by Reda Johnson, but Wednesday were worthy winners.
OWLS: Kirkland 7, Buxton 7, Llera 7, Beevers 7, R Johnson 7, Antonio 7 (Maguire 90+4), Semedo 8, McCabe 7, J Johnson 7, Rodri 8 (Madine 61, 7), O’Grady 8 (Pecnik 81). Unused subs: Bywater, Mattock, Prutton, Coke.
BLUES: Butland 6, Spector 6, Caldwell 6, Davies 6, Murphy 7, Burke 8, Mullins 7, Ambrose 6, Redmond 7, Elliott 6 (Zigic h-t, 7), King 7. Unused subs: Doyle, Ibanez, Lovenkrands, Morrison, Gomis, Packwood.
Bookings: Mullins (8 minutes ), Rodri (37), Zigic (71).