Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Aston Villa: Fernando Forestieri strikes late for the Owls
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 07/08/16 7:39pm
Fernando Forestieri scored a late winner for Sheffield Wednesday as Roberto Di Matteo's first game in charge of Aston Villa ended in a 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough.
A mistake by Villa goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini on his debut allowed Forestieri to slot home in the 85th minute for Carlos Carvalhal's side.
Relegated in dismal fashion last season, Villa had been dominating before the winning goal, despite failing to create many real clear-cut chances.
For Wednesday, it was the perfect response in their opening game after suffering play-off final heartbreak last season.
It was an atmosphere of optimism from the off at Hillsborough, which the action on the pitch in the first half didn't really live up to.
The only real incident of note in a fairly mundane opening 45 minutes was a clash of heads between two debutants, Wednesday's Steven Fletcher and new Aston Villa captain Tommy Elphick, which forced the former off early after several minutes of treatment.
Chances were at a premium at either end, with Jordan Ayew's weak header after 19 minutes for Villa and Forestieri's dipping shot which landed on the roof of the net the only times that either side really came close to scoring.
The action picked up immediately in the second half, with Forestieri at the heart of everything good in an attacking sense from Wednesday, and he forced an early save from Gollini to set the tone for the rest of the match.
Villa slowly began to dominate the game as it went on, but lacked conviction up front with new signing Ross McCormack and strike partner Rudy Gestede struggling to gel.
The one time they did link-up they managed to create Villa's best opening of the game after 75 minutes. Gestede nodded a long ball on to the big-money arrival from Fulham, but he hesitated as he surged clear into the box and Wednesday's defence managed to get back at him.
It looked like the game was heading for a goalless draw, but as the game approached the final five minutes Villa goalkeeper Gollini scuffed a clearance into the path of Forestieri - via the head of Elphick as he tried to get it away - and the Wednesday forward made no mistake in charging forward and slotting the ball home.
For Di Matteo and Aston Villa, it was a lesson in the stark realities of Championship football.