Hat-trick and hope as Owls finish with a flourish: Sheffield Wednesday 5 Norwich City 1

Hat-trick hero Atdhe Nuhiu. Pictures: Steve Ellis
Hat-trick hero Atdhe Nuhiu. Pictures: Steve Ellis
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They saved the best for last.

Wednesday ended a forgettable campaign on a high, thumping a lack-lustre Norwich City side in a carnival atmosphere at S6.

Atdhe Nuhiu opens the scoring

Atdhe Nuhiu opens the scoring

Atdhe Nuhiu stole the show in the Owls’ biggest victory of the season. The Kosovo international, out of contract in the summer but mulling over a new deal, hit a hat-trick, becoming the first Wednesday player to score a treble since Neil Mellor in November 2010.

Fernando Forestieri and Frederico Venancio also got on the scoresheet as the Owls put five past the Canaries for the second year running.

Wednesday were ruthless in attack, punishing Norwich’s naive defending. The visitors created plenty of chances themselves ... just didn’t take them.

“I am proud of the players for that performance,” said Owls chief Jos Luhukay. “I say there is always something to play for in football and we showed that.

Fernando Forestieri beats Angus Gunn for the second goal

Fernando Forestieri beats Angus Gunn for the second goal

“We played very well. It was fantastic to score five goals and we could have scored more.

“We played with power and good movement and put our chances away.

“When you see the last two and a half to three months, the team have made good, positive progression and they believe in each other.

“We have a positive end to a difficult season for the club and the team.

Atdhe Nuhiu's second goal

Atdhe Nuhiu's second goal

“We can go into the summer with a very good feeling and into pre-season with confidence.”

It was a fitting send-off for captain Glenn Loovens and Ross Wallace, who will leave the club at the end of the season.

Glenn Loovens

It proved an emotional Hillsborough farewell for Loovens.

Goal joy for Frederico Venancio

Goal joy for Frederico Venancio

The Dutch defender, recalled to the starting line-up after almost two months in the wilderness, was given a standing ovation by the home faithful when he was subbed off for youngster Jordan Thorniley just before half-time.

“Glenn has been here a long time and I have learned a lot from him,” acknowledged Nuhiu. “He has been here through some difficult times but doesn’t hide from anything. He’s a top captain.”

It was his 150th Owls appearance and Loovens, along with Wallace, received a guard of honour from their teammates and the backroom staff before the squad embarked on a lap of appreciation after the final whistle.

There were plenty of other poignant tributes, including Loovens and Wallace’s best bits in Wednesday colours being displayed on Wednesday’s scoreboard.

Luhukay, who also gave academy youngster Ash Baker his debut, said: “The team showed these two players a lot of respect.

“I spoke with Glenn before on what was the plan. He did a very good job in the first half. He was very focused and we played a very good game. We gave no chances away.

Glenn Loovens bids farewell

Glenn Loovens bids farewell

“When he went off, he got a standing ovation and the fans showed him a lot of respect.

“He has been a fantastic player for this club and Ross has also done a good job in the time he has been here.”

The match

Nuhiu opened the scoring in style, heading in Adam Reach’s glorious cross after a free-flowing move involving Lucas Joao and Forestieri.

In-form Forestieri doubled the lead on the half-hour mark, firing home after latching on to Christoph Zimmermann’s woeful back pass. It was his fifth goal in eight appearances since recovering from a serious knee injury.

Norwich made a strong start to the second half but Venancio expertly volleyed in the third in the 58th minute following a pinpoint cross by Owls Player of the Year Reach. Venancio is on a season-long-loan deal from Vitoria de Setubal and Luhukay is keen to keep him. There were cries of ‘Sign him up’ after the defender’s maiden strike.

Moments later, Nuhiu tapped in the fourth after Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn collided with Zimmermann.

Canaries skipper Timm Klose pulled one back but Nuhiu had the last word from the penalty spot after Jamal Lewis upended Forestieri. Nuhiu calmly slotted home from 12 yards.

Luhukay said: “Lucas was the penalty-taker but he said Atdhe could take it.”

Wednesday are in far better shape now than they were when Luhukay took over in January. There is a positive vibe and their impressive run of form over has restored some pride and given them something to build on.

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