Owls match report: Sheffield Wednesday 3 Reading 0
Fernando Forestieri produced a dazzling performance as Sheffield Wednesday cruised to a 3-0 victory over Reading.
The talented forward, who has missed the majority of the season due to injury, bagged a brace either side of half-time to help the Owls clinch a fifth win in their last seven Championship outings.
George Boyd also got on the scoresheet to sentence Reading, who are still not safe from the drop, to a fifth successive away defeat.
And the Royals finished the contest with 10 men after Tyler Blackett was sent off for an off the ball incident.
Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay rotated his squad, making two changes to the team who defeated Hull City last weekend. Cameron Dawson was preferred in goal to Joe Wildsmith and Daniel Pudil replaced youngster Jordan Thorniley in defence.
For our Owls news and opinion on twitter follow hereIt was a cagey, low-key affair in the early stages. Forestieri cut in from the right and curled a left foot shot high over the top before Jordan Rhodes glanced a header wide when well-placed after great play on the left flank by George Boyd.
The closest Reading came to scoring was on the half hour mark after Dawson spilled a cross under pressure from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson but the striker's shot from an acute angle was superbly cleared off the line by Frederico Venancio.
Too often Rhodes was isolated up front in the Owls' fluid 3-4-3 formation. Their approach play was relatively pleasing on the eye but their attacks kept breaking down in the final third.
But there was little quality or urgency in the Royals play and Forestieri broke the deadlock in the 34th minute following good work by Boyd and Daniel Pudil. Forestieri collected Pudil's cut back, swivelled sharply in the area before unleashing a fierce left foot half volley which deflected in off Tiago Ilori.
And Forestieri played an instrumental role in Wednesday's second. He kept the ball alive near the corner flag and the hosts recycled the ball to Reach. The versatile player burst into area and drilled the ball into the six yard box and Boyd slid in to claim his third goal of the campaign.
For more news from Hillsborough click hereReading responded well to falling two nil down, with Bodvarsson heading narrowly wide and Modou Barrow fizzing a dangerous centre across the face of goal after more pressure from Paul Clement's side.
There was a worrying moment for the Owls when Jack Hunt picked up a knock and required treatment for several minutes deep inside his own half. The stretcher was called but the wing back eventually got back to his feet. However, Hunt was unable to continue and was replaced by Atdhe Nuhiu.
Wednesday continued to press for a third and Lucas Joao, a second half replacement for Rhodes, blazed over from close range after Nuhiu cushioned Forestieri's cross into his path.
After Bodvarsson fired inches wide, Forestieri increased the Owls' advantage in the 73rd minute in stunning fashion. He won a crunching 50/50 duel with Tyler Blackett before lashing an unstoppable right foot shot into the top corner. It was a fabulous goal and Forestieri's fourth in his last six matches.
Moments later, Blackett was given his marching orders after stupidly kicking Nuhiu off the ball.
Luhukay handed Owls youngster Connor Kirby his debut in the closing stages and Reading came close to grabbing a consolation through substitutes Yann Kermorgant and Omar Richards.
But the day belonged to Wednesday and Forestieri.
Wednesday: Dawson; Hunt (Nuhiu 69), Venancio (Kirby 78), Lees, Pudil, Boyd; Pelupessy, Bannan, Reach; Rhodes (Joao 69), Forestieri. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Nielsen, Jones, Matias.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Van Den Berg (Kermorgant 58), Moore, Swift, Aluko (Clement 83), Barrow, Ilori, Bodvarsson (Richards 78), Blackett, Kelly. Substitutes: Jaakkola, Edwards, Clement, Martin, Rinomhota, Richards
Referee: Jeremy Simpson