Sheffield Wednesday match report: Brentford 2 Owls 0
Sheffield Wednesday ended 2017 on a low note, falling to a 2-0 defeat at in-form Brentford.
Goal either side of half-time from Lasse Vibe and Florian Jozefzoon condemned interim Owls boss Lee Bullen to his first defeat in charge.
The result was no more than the Bees deserved, who dominated for long periods.
Caretaker Wednesday boss Bullen made three changes to the team who thumped Nottingham Forest 3-0 on Boxing Day. With Joost van Aken and Gary Hooper sidelined by hamstring and groin injuries respectively, Daniel Pudil and Jacob Butterfield were handed recalls. Atdhe Nuhiu was preferred to Lucas Joao in attack.
Wednesday lined up in a midfield diamond, with Adam Reach deployed just in behind strikers Rhodes and Nuhiu.
Reach looked lively in the early stages, seeing his left foot drive go well wide.
For our Owls news and opinion on twitter follow hereSoon after, Nuhiu headed straight at Daniel Bentley after a fine cross to the back post by Morgan Fox as the visitors kept pressing for the opener.
But against the run of play, the hosts opened the scoring through Vibe. He glided past Owls skipper Glenn Loovens before coolly firing a shot past Joe Wildsmith to claim his sixth goal in five matches.
It was a suckerpunch to Wednesday, who were indebted to Wildsmith for Brentford not doubling their advantage in the 25th minute. Romaine Sawyers slipped in Florian Jozefzoon, who beat the Owls' offside trap, but Wildsmith rushed off his line and kept out the Bees forward's left foot strike.
Wildsmith was forced into action again in the 33rd minute, diving to his left to turn away Ryan Woods' fierce effort after the midfielder had been teed up by Vibe.
Moments later, Wildsmith spread himself superbly to keep Vibe at bay after the striker latched on to Sawyers' neat through ball.
For more news from Hillsborough click hereJozefzoon, a constant thorn in the Owls' side, should have doubled Brentford's lead but he blazed over after Yoann Barbet's whipped the ball into the danger area.
Ross Wallace and Sawyers were both cautioned after clashing just inside Wednesday's half as Brentford continued to dominate.
Bullen sought a response from his Wednesday team and made a double change at half-time. He threw on Joao and Almen Abdi, taking off Nuhiu and Wallace.
Pudil joined Wallace and Sam Hutchinson in the book after crudely bringing down the dangerous Jozefzoon.
The Owls struggled to string anything together as an attacking force and Wildsmith had to be alert to save Vibe's 20 yard effort after more good approach play.
It took a great block by Liam Palmer to stop Vibe from grabbing his second after Jozefzoon broke clear down the right.
After Barbet's volley flew agonisingly off target, Sergi Canos's speculative 30 yard volley flew on to the roof of the net as the Bees piled on the pressure.
Reach then fed Joao on the edge of the area but his right foot shot expertly was blocked by Chris Mempham. The Portugal international also headed over a Butterfield corner before the outstanding Jozefzoon doubled Brentford's advantage with seven minutes remaining. He curled home after substitutes Ollie Watkins and Maupay had combined effectively.
Barbet drilled over a free kick in the dying minutes as Wednesday lost to Brentford for the just second time in the last 10 meetings.
It was the Bees' third consecutive victory and Dean Smith's side have only tasted defeat twice in the last 18 matches in all competitions.
Brentford: Bentley; Yennaris, Mepham, Bjelland, Barbet; Woods, McEachran (Mokotjo 68); Sawyers, Jozefzoon, Canos (Watkins 68); Vibe (Maupay 79). Substitutes: Daniels, Macleod, Judge, Clarke.
Owls: Wildsmith; Palmer (Hunt 67), Loovens, Pudil, Fox; Wallace (Abdi HT), Butterfield, Hutchinson, Reach; Nuhiu (Joao HT), Rhodes. Substitutes: Dawson, Venancio, Jones, Matias.
Referee: David Coote.