Sheffield Wednesday 2-4 Aston Villa: Steve Bruce's side fight back for victory
Last Updated: 24/02/18 6:46pm
Aston Villa kept their chances of gaining automatic promotion alive after two late goals saw them beat Sheffield Wednesday 4-2.
Wednesday went ahead early on courtesy of Sean Clare's first senior goal for the club. Villa hit back quickly through on-loan striker Lewis Grabban but the home side were on top again before the break, when Lucas Joao headed home.
Glenn Whelan levelled the game on his return to Hillsborough and then Conor Hourihane and Robert Snodgrass (penalty) scored to seal victory.
It was a lively start to the game and Clare broke the deadlock in the 14th minute. The young midfielder struck a sweet strike into the bottom left corner first time from Atdhe Nuhiu's chested pass, to finish off a great counter-attacking move.
The lead did not last as Villa showed why they are in the hunt for automatic promotion. Captain John Terry had a header saved well by goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith, who then reacted quickly to save again at point-blank range from Scott Hogan.
The danger still was not cleared and Grabban was looming to tap in his 14th league goal of the season in the 21st minute.
The in-form Joao, Clare and Nuhiu went close to scoring before a well-worked short corner came frustratingly close to being a goal for George Boyd. The wing-back received the ball in space just outside the area and his effort came off the post and hit keeper Sam Johnstone.
Boyd was in the thick of the action and exhibited some fancy footwork to dribble into the Villa box before going to ground but referee Neil Swarbrick denied him a penalty.
After all the short corners taken by the Owls, it was a simple one whipped in by Reach that Joao headed brilliantly past Johnstone to put them in front on the stroke of half-time.
Wednesday were made to pay when they left Snodgrass too much time to pick out a cross, and former-Wednesday man Whelan headed in his first goal for Villa from inside the six-yard box in the 67th minute to level the score.
The tie burst into life again with 15 minutes left on the clock, Frederico Venancio hitting the post and Joao having a shot cleared off the line in a scramble inside the Villa six-yard box. Nuhiu was also denied by a fine Johnstone save moments later and at the other end James Chester headed inches over the bar.
In a sickening blow for the home side, Hourihane then put Villa ahead for the first time in the game with three minutes left on the clock, shooting with his first touch and placing it perfectly through the crowded box into the bottom left corner.
Snodgrass scored from the spot in stoppage time to compound the home team's misery, as Swarbrick awarded a penalty for a Venancio foul on the spot-kick taker.
Jos Luhukay: "I think it was a very interesting game. We had a fantastic first half. We made good goals and we had two or three very good chances to come in more comfortable at half-time. In the second half, we lost that little bit of control we had in the first half and Aston Villa became stronger in this situation. At 2-2, we could have scored two times to make it 3-2.
"But when I look to what we have done today, we had good chances to come in with a better result at the end. It was a very good atmosphere, was a good game and there are goals. Not in a positive way for us at the end, but we can take a lot of positive things from this game. We know we must defend better, we know we didn't have luck on our side today."
Steve Bruce: "I thought it was a very, very good game. I thought we were very, very open in the first half, which we addressed better in the second half. But overall, if you come to Hillsborough and score four times, then you deserve to win. When when we arrived at the club, we wanted to instil tenacity because it probably wasn't there before. To have it and to get it with a group of players who are on the same hymn sheet as the supporters is important.
"For too long now, the supporters haven't really associated with the team because of what's happened to the club. I believe they're enjoying watching the team now, there's association with supporters and the team, which is important."