Sheffield Wednesday match verdict and reaction: Blackburn Rovers 2 Owls 2

Modou Sougou equalises. Pictures: Steve Ellis
Modou Sougou equalises. Pictures: Steve Ellis
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Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Tore Andre Flo had the happy knack of transforming the course of football matches from the bench throughout their careers.

Now there is a new super-sub in English football.

Lucas Joao scores the second goal

Lucas Joao scores the second goal

He might not like his bit-part role, but Lucas Joao has the useful habit of making an impact after entering the action from the bench.

No player has scored more goals as a substitute in the Championship this season than the Portugal international’s four. Indeed, Joao is Wednesday’s leading marksman with seven goals and Carlos Carvalhal’s side have never lost when he has registered.

At Blackburn, the 22-year-old was introduced, along with Gary Hooper, at the interval and the Owls’ forward line looked far more menacing following their arrivals.

Joao demonstrated his finishing prowess in the 84th minute, coolly nodding home after Kieran Lee sliced towards goal. So often Joao seems to be in the right place at just the right time.

Tom Lees up against Jordan Rhodes

Tom Lees up against Jordan Rhodes

Wednesday’s second leveller was greeted angrily by the home faithful, whose captain, Grant Hanley, was laid down injured in their area, but the visitors played on to controversially secure a point.

New Rovers boss Paul Lambert argued: “It’s a grey area. The referee is in an awkward position.

“He doesn’t have to blow unless the other team kicks it out. I can understand why Sheffield Wednesday never done it. Is that fair play? It’s a hard one to call.

“But it never helped us because Grant, who I thought was outstanding, was injured at the time.”

Keeper Keiren Westwood looks happy with a point

Keeper Keiren Westwood looks happy with a point

One thing is for certain, Angolan-born Joao has bags of potential and every strike increases his market value.

Premier League Everton and Crystal Palace are reportedly keeping close tabs on him.

Given Joao’s recent goal-scoring exploits, questions were raised over why Atdhe Nuhiu was again preferred up front. Joao is a great outlet with his speed and power but Carvalhal is determined to protect him.

When the written media asked Carvalhal to explain his handling of Joao, the head coach smiled, then paused for five seconds, before reeling off a number of reasons why he is currently using him more as a sub than a starter.

“The people are very happy about Lucas and excited about him,” he admitted. “It’s not a question of playing at the beginning, it’s about creating the correct environment so Lucas can make the difference.

“For example, he started at home to Brighton and it was very difficult for him. He did not have the best of games and this is normal, this can happen.

“But against Arsenal, the environment was absolutely correct and he started, he played well and scored.

“Against Blackburn, they play with two very big centre-halves, and we knew that is not the correct environment for Lucas to start. We put him to play in the correct environments.

“I remember Cristiano Ronaldo when he played at Manchester United. Sometimes he scored two or three goals and then Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t play him in the next game.

“Sometimes Lucas will do good. Sometimes not so good.

“When he has more space and the energy of the opponents is a little down, he gives us energy. We are managing him very well.”

Carvalhal’s changes gave Wednesday fresh impetus after a poor first-half showing at a rain-drenched Ewood Park. Defensively the Owls switched off, conceding two goals from set-pieces, although Carvalhal was convinced Tom Lees was upended in the build-up to Rovers second.

Wednesday got their tactics wrong, playing way too direct. Time and time again they launched aimless high balls up towards Nuhiu. Hanley and Shane Duffy, Rovers two big, uncompromising centre-backs, gobbled them up.

Ironically, Modou Sougou’s third goal in Owls colours came after a long punt upfield by Keiren Westwood, who played on despite an achilles problem, which was flicked on by Nuhiu into the path of Lee. The midfielder weaved past two defenders and rounded Jason Steele only to hit the post from an acute angle but Sougou slammed in the rebound.

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Carvalhal’s men lacked ideas in midfield, missing Barry Bannan’s creativity and Sam Hutchinson’s steel.

However, they were much better after the restart and their talisman, Fernando Forestieri, featured prominently. He was switched to the left flank to accommodate Joao and Hooper.

Rovers created enough chances to put the contest out of Wednesday’s reach but their finishing let them down, opening the door for Joao, one of the form players in the division, to rescue them again.

Despite Carvalhal’s assertion that the Owls “deserved a minimum of a draw”, it was definitely a point gained for the visitors.

Carvalhal has ruled out Joao or any of his other top performers leaving in the January transfer window.

That’s a major positive for the Owls in their quest to gatecrash the top six.

Joao’s five league strikes have earned eighth-placed Wednesday seven extra points - and that could be crucial if the Hillsborough club are to make their play-off dream a reality.

Blackburn: Steele 7; Henley 6, Duffy 7, Hanley 7 (Henry 87), Olsson 6; Marshal 6 (Lawrence 90), Akpan 6, Evans 7, Conway 8 (Guthrie 78); Taylor 6, Rhodes 6. Substitutes: Eastwood, Spurr, Delfouneso, Brown.

Wednesday: Westwood 7; Palmer 7, Lees 7, Loovens 6, Pudil 7; Sougou 6 (Wallace 69, 6), Semedo 6, Lee 7, Helan 6 (Hooper H-T, 6); Nuhiu 6 (Joao H-T, 8), Forestieri 7. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Dielna, McGugan, Lopez.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex).

Attendance: 15,837 (3,407).