Sheffield Wednesday match report: Owls 5 Norwich City 1
Atdhe Nuhiu grabbed a memorable hat-trick as Sheffield Wednesday signed off a disappointing campaign with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Norwich City at HIllsborough today.
The Kosovo international, whose contract expires this summer, was the star of the show as Jos Luhukay's men brushed aside the mid-table Canaries.
Further goals either side of half-time from Fernando Forestieri and Frederico Venancio sealed the Owls' sixth win in their last nine matches and ensured they finished 15th in the table.
Nuhiu, who has been offered a new deal, maintained his stellar form. He has found the back of the net 13 times under Luhukay's watchful eye.
Boss Luhukay made two defensive changes to his side. He selected club captain Glenn Loovens, who will leave Wednesday this summer following the expiry of his contract, at centre-half, dropping Tom Lees to the bench. It was Loovens' 150th Owls appearance.
Luhukay also handed a first-team debut to academy player Ash Baker. The former Cardiff CIty youngster was deployed on the right hand side of Luhukay's 3-4-1-2 formation, with Adam Reach switching to the opposite flank.
For our Owls news and opinion on twitter follow hereIn front of a large crowd, the hosts had the first sight at goal when Fernando Forestieri scuffed a shot wide after being slipped in by Atdhe Nuhiu.
Venancio, making his final Owls appearance before returning to parent club Vitoria de Setubal, had to be alert to cut out Moritz Leitner's low cross as Norwich briefly threatened.
The closest the Canaries, who were forced into an early change when star man James Maddison picked up a knock, failed to trouble
But Nuhiu broke the deadlock in the 14th minute, sending a bullet header past Angus Gunn after a fine delivery to the back post by Wednesday Player of the Season Adam Reach.
Shortly after Nuhiu had been booked for a crude challenge on Christoph Zimmermann, Forestieri doubled the Owls' advantage. He latched on to Zimmermann's short back pass and he slotted past the helpless Gunn. It was an absolute gift and Forestieri gleefully bagged his fourth goal in his last five starts.
Norwich rallied and Nelson Oliveira, who scored in the reverse fixture, cut inside from the right and curled a left foot drive narrowly off target.
Wednesdayites stood to applaud Loovens in the 43rd minute when he was subbed off and replaced by Jordan Thorniley. The Dutch defender was given a standing ovation. It was a lovely touch.
There was also time for Baker to put in a fine last-ditch tackle in his own penalty area to prevent Josh Murphy from forcing Cameron Dawson into action.
It was Norwich who made a strong start to the second period, with Olveira somehow heading the ball away from goal after a great run and cross by Murphy.
Moments later, midfielder Tom Trybull tried his luck from long range but Dawson was equal to it.
For more news from Hillsborough click hereAfter soaking up the pressure, Venancio superbly volleyed in the third after another exquisite centre by Reach from the left. The Kop chanted 'Sign him up, sign him up.'
Nuhiu registered his second and Wednesday's fourth on the hour mark. The tall forward took his tally to 13 goals in all competitions, tapping home inside the six yard-box after Gunn spilled the ball following a collision with Zimmermann. Joey Pelupessy's driving run and cross down the right caused mayhem in the Norwich penalty area and Nuhiu made the most of the defensive mix up.
With 14 minutes remaining, Moritz Leitner could have reduced Norwich's arrears but he glanced substitute Ivo Pinto's cross just wide.
The Canaries deserved to get on the scoresheet and captain Klose grabbed a late consolation in the 83rd minute, sweeping home inside the six-yard box.
Wednesday wasted a number of opportunities to increase the margin of victory but Gunn spread himself well to keep out Forestieri in a one-on-one situation before expertly tipping Nuhiu's header from Jordan Thorniley's cross to safety.
Nuhiu was not to be denied his hat-trick. The Owls were awarded a penalty in added on time after Forestieri had been felled in the box and Nuhiu calmly slotted hom from 12 yards.
The result wrapped up Wednesday's sixth win in their last seven home matches against the Canaries.
Owls: Dawson; Venancio, Loovens (Thorniley 43) Pudil; Baker (Palmer 84), Pelupessy, Bannan, Forestieri, Reach (Matias 78); Nuhiu, Joao. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Lees, Nielsen, Rhodes.
Norwich: Gunn; Reed, Zimmermann, Klose, Lewis; Trybull, Leitner; Hernandez, Maddison (Pinto 10), Murphy; Oliveira (Srbeny 76). Substitutes: McGovern, Husband, Watkins, Stiepermann, Raggett.
Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)