Sheffield Wednesday: Aston Villa 2 Owls 0
Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal was sent to the stands following Vincent Sasso's controversial red card in the Championship promotion-chasers 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa today.
The Portuguese chief was left fuming by referee Lee Probert's decision to send off Sasso for a challenge on Conor Hourihane early in the second half. It proved a key moment in the contest as Jonathan Kodjia's brace either side of the interval dented Wednesday's promotion aspirations.The results means the Owls remain sixth but seventh-placed Fulham closed the gap down to two points after a superb victory over leaders Newcastle United.
There was one notable absentee from Wednesday's starting line-up, with Fernando Forestieri ruled out with a knee injury sustained in the midweek draw against Burton Albion. The severity of Forestieri's knock is not yet known but his setback handed Adam Reach an opportunity to stake his claim.Forestieri joins a growing injury list, including Sam Hutchinson, Tom Lees, Kieran Lee, Gary Hooper, Callum McManaman and Almen Abdi.The first incident of note culminated in Villa defender Nathan Baker receiving a yellow card for clumsily bringing down Jordan Rhodes.Scotland international Rhodes, a transfer target for Villa in the January transfer window, created the first opening for Owls in the 12th minute. He collected Vincent Sasso's long punt upfield and fed Sam Winnall, who drilled a right foot shot agonisingly wide.Moments later, Winnall latched on to Reach's pass only to see his fierce drive well blocked by Sam Johnstone.But Wednesday, making their first league trip to Villa Park since 1999, did not have things all their own way and Jonathan Kodjia' strike from an acute angle was comfortably held by Keiren Westwood.Villa, who made a late change to their team after Henri Lansbury picked up a knock during the warm-up, continued to press for the opener and Mile Jedinak nodded Conor Hourihane's free-kick over.The Owls' travelling fans were briefly celebrating in the 21st minute when Sasso headed home from close range but it was disallowed for offside.James Bree, formerly of Barnsley, fired into the side-netting after good play by Kodjia as Villa asked several questions of Wednesday's backline.The visitors inability to make the most of their opportunities came back to haunt them in the 34th minute when Kodjia rose highest to steer a header out of Westwood's reach after Wednesday switched off from a short corner. It was a poor goal to give away.
However, the Owls could have responded immediately when Reach fed Wallace, who curled wide when he should have at least forced Johnstone into action.Wednesday's task was made even harder when Sasso was dismissed three minutes into the second half. Referee Probert immediately brandished the red card and Carvalhal was sent to the stands for his protests.Villa then nearly doubled their advantage but substitute Alan Hutton fluffed his lines from 10 yards after an inviting centre by the lively Albert Adomah.Sasso's red card forced the Owls into a defensive reshuffle, with Fox switching to centre-half and Reach filling in at left-back.Wednesday kept battling and Winnall prodded wide of the target from the edge of the box after collecting Reach's pass.Midway through the second period, Hourihane sidefooted wide of Westwood's right hand upright after Adomah opened up the Owls' defence.The Owls had a penalty appeal waved away in the 71st minute when Wallace went down under a challenge by Jordan Amavi.Rhodes sliced over from long range but Kodjia compounded Wednesday's frustration by claiming a second for Villa. He raced on to Adomah's through ball and coolly rounded the onrushing Westwood before tapping in.Jack Hunt's attempt with the outside of his right foot was well kept out by Johnstone as Villa held on for maximum points.
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Bree, Chester, Baker (Hutton 25), Taylor, Jedinak, Hourihane, Gardner, Amavi, Adomah (Elphick 82), Kodjia (Davis 85). Bunn, Richards, Blackett-Taylor.Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Sasso, Loovens (Semedo 74), Fox; Wallace, Jones, Bannan, Reach; Winnall (Fletcher 73), Rhodes. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Nuhiu, Buckley, Pudil.Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)Attendance: 31,143