Sheffield Wednesday match report: Owls 2 Aston Villa 4

Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa
Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa
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Two late goals by Conor Hourihane and Robert Snodgrass consigned Sheffield Wednesday to a 4-2 defeat in a pulsating Championship encounter with promotion-chasing Aston Villa at Hillsborough.

It was a harsh result on the Owls, who led 2-1 at half-time after strikes by the impressive Sean Clare and Lucas Joao.

But Villa turned the game on its head in the second half, with ex-Wednesday midfielder Glenn Whelan, Hourihane and Snodgrass all registering.

Wednesday fans vented their frustration in the closing stages towards referee Neil Swarbrick, chanting 'to the referee 4-2.' The Premier League official's decision-making throughout left a lot to be desired throughout and there were loud boos for him and his assistants at the final whistle.

Owls boss Jos Luhukay rotated his squad, making five changes from the team who slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Millwall in midweek.

Daniel Pudil, Clare, Adam Reach, Atdhe Nuhiu and Joao returned to the starting line-up. Glenn Loovens, Jordan Thorniley, David Jones, Ross Wallace and Jack Stobbs made way.

Wednesday posed automatic promotion hopefuls Villa plenty of problems in the early stages, with Reach drilling a shot high over the top following good play by Clare.

Jack Hunt and Lucas Joao dovetailed neatly in the 11th minute only for Reach's glancing header to go narrowly wide of Sam Johnstone's left hand upright.

Luhukay's men deservedly broke the deadlock through Clare, who lashed home from the edge of the penalty area after great approach play involving Joao, George Boyd and Nuhiu. It was Clare's first goal in Owls colours.

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Joao was a constant menace to Villa's defence. The Portugal international teed up the influential Reach, who dragged a low left foot drive wide.

Midway through the first half, the visitors restored parity after Wednesday failed to deal with Conor Hourihane's free-kick. Joe Wildsmith produced two fine saves to deny John Terry and Scott Hogan before Grabban scrambled the ball in from inside the six yard box.

It was proving an entertaining contest. Joao nodded a peach of a centre by Boyd wide before Hogan's looping header at the other end was expertly saved by Wildsmith.

Hunt was a good outlet on the right and the wing back's right foot piledrive was tipped over by Johnstone as the Owls pressed for a second. From the resulting corner, Nuhiu failed to force the Villa keeper into action with a near post header.

Clare delivered an accomplished performance in the first half and was desperately unlucky not to get his second of the afternoon. Boyd pulled the ball back to him and the midfielder, who spent time on loan at Gillingham earlier this season, saw his shot deflected behind for a corner.

Villa struggled to cope with Wednesday's high-octane football and Boyd hit the post in the 39th minute following a clever short corner routine. Boyd was busy throughout and moments later had a strong penalty appeal waved away after he appeared to be tripped by a Villa defender.

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Against the run of play, Robert Snodgrass could have given Steve Bruce's side the lead after a wonderful cross by Alan Hutton but the Scotland international headed straight at Wildsmith.

The Owls finished the half in the ascendency and Clare's shot was expertly turned away by Johnstone.

And their pressure paid off from the resulting corner with Joao rising highest to nod home Wednesday's second. It was Joao's sixth goal of the campaign.

Villa created the first meaningful opportunity after the restart, with Grabban's header kept out by Wildsmith in the 50th minute.

Bruce shuffled his pack, throwing on Keinan Davis in attack.

They forced Wednesday back and Whelan equalised, steering a header past the helpless Wildsmith after good wing play by Snodgrass. There was a muted celebration from the former Owls midfielder.

Whelan's leveller woke Wednesday up from their stupor and Frederico Venancio hit the post from Clare's corner before Johnstone produced a great stop to deny Joao as Villa somehow managed to clear their lines.

Shortly after Venancio's near miss, Nuhiu broke clear but Johnstone once again came to Villa's rescue.

It was a costly miss as former Barnsley midfielder Hourihane volleyed home in the 87th minute after Wednesday only partially cleared a corner.

And Snodgrass slotted home a penalty deep into added on time after Daniel Pudil had been penalised for bringing him down.

Owls: Wildsmith; Venancio, Pudil, Fox; Hunt, Clare, Pelupessy, Reach, Boyd; Joao, Nuhiu. Substitutes: Dawson, Baker, Loovens, Jones, Butterfield, Stobbs, Rhodes.

Villa: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Hutton (Taylor 51); Snodgrass, Hourihane, Whelan, Grabban; Onomah (Davis 60), Hogan (Jedinak 83). Substitutes: Bunn, Lansbury, Bjarnason, Hepburn-Murphy.

Attendance: 28,604

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

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