Sheffield Wednesday: Fernando Forestieri was one of the few shining lights from the Owls' defeat to Queens Park Rangers
Amid the wreckage of their defensive horror-show at Queens Park Rangers, there was one small crumb of comfort for the Owls.
Fernando Forestieri was a real bright spark and marked his first Championship start since August 5 with a well-taken second half goal in the capital.
Forestieri, Wednesday’s top-scorer in each of the past two campaigns, never shirked responsibility at Loftus Road. He troubled the R’s defence with his quick feet and clever movement. The end product was not always there but Forestieri showed plenty of positive intent.
“Fernando was happy to play and score but he, like the rest of the team, was not happy with the result,” boss Jos Luhukay, pictured below, told The Star.
Forestieri, who recently returned to action after recovering from major knee surgery, was withdrawn in the 80th minute.
Luhukay said: “I spoke with Fernando at half-time and in the 60th minute.
“I think 80 minutes was long enough for him. You could see he was a little bit tired at the end of the game but that is normal in his situation.
“It was important for Fernando, of course, that he had a good feeling about himself and didn’t have a problem with his knee.”
Despite Forestieri’s best efforts, the Owls slumped to a second successive defeat. QPR established a three-goal lead inside the opening quarter of an hour after goals from Paul Smyth, Jake Bidwell and Idrissa Sylla.
Forward Sylla, fit-again following a calf problem, scored again early in the second half, from the penalty spot, before Forestieri and Nuhiu netted for the Owls.
More than 1,500 fans cheered on Luhukay’s team in midweek. They never stopped singing or getting behind the side - even when they trailed four nil.
“The supporters will be disappointed and we were also disappointed with the result,” said Luhukay. “We win and lose together. It was not a good 15 minutes but after that I saw the team give everything for a better result.”
Luhukay, who has overseen just four wins from 16 league matches, was at a loss to explain their dismal start.
He said: “I have no explanation for that. It is disappointing and we have never started as badly as that.
“We let crosses in. You must block the crosses and also defend in the 18 yard box.
“We must be better. We started too late. After 20 minutes we came back into the game but when you’re starting after 20 minutes you cannot win.
“The team did not give up and we had chances. They kept fighting, got two goals and we had a chance for a third goal but luck was not on our side.”
Eyebrows were raised over Luhukay’s decision to field Jordan Thorniley as left-back and play Daniel Pudil at centre-half. Czech Republic international Pudil has predominantly been deployed as a full-back since moving to Hillsborough while Thorniley’s natural position is centre-back.
“They have both played a lot of times in these positions over the last three months,” stressed Luhukay. “It was not new for them.
“We must not speak about positions. We didn’t defend well in our last 30 metres. It had nothing to do with which players played in what positions.
“We lost control and were not aggressive enough on the sides to block the crosses. When the crosses came in, we always had a problem by the second post.”