They left it late.
But Sheffield Wednesday’s irresistible array of attacking talent blew Huddersfield Town away in a thrilling Hillsborough fightback.
Lucas Joao and Fernando Forestieri will, quite rightly, get most of the plaudits after terrorising the Terriers defence with their potent mix of speed and trickery in the final 12 minutes of this Yorkshire derby.
However, no-one should forget Keiren Westwood’s contribution in the Owls’ first home win over Huddersfield since 2004.
Westwood, fit again following an ankle problem which forced him to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad, produced a superb block to stop Emyr Huws from doubling the visitors lead. Had that gone in, it could have been a very different story.
“Keiren was very important and made a fantastic save,” acknowledged Carlos Carvalhal.
“If he hadn’t made that save, we probably would not have won and we aren’t talking about Lucas Joao or Fernando.
“The good goalkeepers who have experience and play for their national teams make the difference. They may not have a lot to do but have to be ready.”
The final scoreline certainly flattered Carvalhal’s side as they missed the steel, industry and creativity Sam Hutchinson and Barry Bannan bring to their midfield.
Both sides created next to nothing in a dour, forgettable first half, leading to some boos from the home faithful.
“It was a very strange 45 minutes,” said Carvalhal.
“It was not good to us or them.”
Fresh from making his first Portugal start, Joao was introduced at half-time, joining the recalled Atdhe Nuhiu up front, and wasted no time in running Huddersfield’s backline ragged.
Forestieri was switched to the left flank but Wednesday went behind in the 53rd minute.
The hosts’ defence switched off, failing to close Kyle Dempsey down and prevent him from whipping in a dangerous delivery which Sean Scannell stooped to head home inside the six-yard box.
Up to that point, Huddersfield had frustrated the Owls, monopolised possession and executed new head coach David Wagner’s game plan to perfection. It looked like new-manager syndrome would strike again.
Carvalhal went for broke, throwing on Lewis McGugan and Gary Hooper, and altered his system, opting for a diamond in midfield. His tactical changes eventually paid off.
He pushed more men forward and Forestieri was the catalyst for the fightback at the tip of the diamond.
Carvalhal said: “We have more options and more players with quality.”
A moment of inspiration was required and Forestieri duly delivered. He effortlessly glided past substitute Jonathan Hogg and Mark Hudson before seeing his low shot cleared off the line by Dempsey only for Joao to rifle home.
“Fernando fights all the time for the team, which is the most important thing to me,” stressed Carvalhal. “Whether he scores goals or plays well is secondary to me.
“I want all the team to put the team first. He did very well and, because he has quality, he can do different things.
“We win with a team and not as individuals.
“We showed that we have a strong team. The strong teams can do what we did today. We played with a lot of heart. It was a fantastic reaction.
“We won because of fantastic teamwork. All the players played their part. We win with the team and not with individual players.
There was no stopping Wednesday after Joao’s equaliser. They had all the momentum and Forestieri set up Kieran Lee for the second after being denied by Joe Murphy to spark wild celebration scenes.
Carvalhal is an animated, passionate person and was overcome with emotion after Lee had put them ahead. He sprinted down the touchline and the relief was etched all over his face. It is the sort of reaction you would normally associate with Carvalhal’s countryman, Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese said: “When you score a goal, you feel like a player and want to celebrate. It is natural.
“I like to be positive but I didn’t like what I saw in the first half and I was disappointed because people pay money to see good football and the fans weren’t liking what they were seeing.
“I was more nervous than normal so when we scored my emotions were very high. I wanted to celebrate to release my energy.”
As Huddersfield visibly tired, Wednesday continued to pick them off and bagged a third in added on time.
Forestieri teed up Joao to claim his third assist and the former Nacional player curled an unstopabble right foot shot past Murphy.
As the Owls later tweeted: ‘They think it’s all over ... it is Joao!’
Wednesday: Westwood 7; Hunt 7, Lees 7, Loovens 7, Pudil 7; Wallace 7, Lee 6, Semedo 6 (McGugan 67), Helan 6 (Joao H-T, 8); Forestieri 7, Nuhiu 6 (Hooper 72). Substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Sougou, Dielna.
Huddersfield: Murphy 7; Smith 6, Cranie 6, Hudson 6, Dempsey 6; Scannell 6 (Lolley 78), Whitehead 6 (Hogg 63, 6), Huws 6, Carayol 5 (Wallace 90); Bunn 6, Wells 5. Substitutes: Allison, Holmes, Chilwell, Bojaj.
referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).