Sheffield Wednesday vs Newcastle United. Sky Bet Championship.
Monday 10 April 2017 12:14, UK
Sheffield Wednesday moved into the play-off spots with a 2-1 win over second-place Newcastle in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday.
Tom Lees opened the scoring shortly before the hour-mark before Steven Fletcher added a second nine minutes later to fuel the Owls' push towards the play-offs and prevent Newcastle from moving to top.
Jonjo Shelvey pulled one back for the Magpies in the 87th minute when he pounced on a rebound to set up a nervy end to the clash, but it was too little too late for the visitors who remain two points behind league leaders Brighton with five games remaining.
The home side failed to capitalise on a number of first-half gilt-edged opportunities but took their chances after the break and, despite a high-paced finish from the away team, held off Newcastle's advances to secure a vital win at Hillsborough.
Carlos Carvalhal's men almost got off to the perfect start in the second minute when, after some impressive build-up play down the left, Gary Hooper took aim from inside the box but his shot was denied by Karl Darlow's crossbar, much to the visitors' relief.
Hooper showed attacking threat again in the 15th minute when he met a fantastic through-ball from Barry Bannan before unselfishly laying the ball to Fletcher, who could only aim his shot wide.
Six minutes later Darlow produced a stunning save when Fletcher looked sure to slot home from close-range, but the 'keeper got down low to his right to palm the ball away and keep his side level in what was another lucky escape for Rafael Benitez's men.
Benitez was forced into an early change when Magpies' top-scorer Dwight Gayle hobbled off the field after 29 minutes, struggling with what appeared to be the recurrence of a hamstring injury.
Newcastle controlled the ball well as the half-time whistle approached and, despite Wednesday's early chances, it was the visitors who almost broke the deadlock when Shelvey produced an audacious long-range shot from 50 yards out but his powerful strike smashed against Kieren Westwood's crossbar.
Shelvey continued to push for an opener and came close after 56 minutes when he forced Westwood into a fine save to keep out the 25-year-old's impressive free-kick from the edge of the box.
Lees made no mistake with the next goal-scoring opportunity - this time up the other end - when he met Ross Wallace's inviting free-kick into the box before out-jumping four Newcastle players to head the ball in the bottom of the net in the 58th minute.
Fletcher doubled his side's advantage nine minutes later and made it four goals from his last five home league appearances against Newcastle when he connected with Daniel Pudil's long-throw to send a stunning header into the far corner.
But the two-goal lead didn't last long and Shelvey's persistence finally paid off when he netted three minutes from time with his fifth league goal of the season, firing home a rebound to ensure a shaky final few minutes for the hosts who held on to secure victory.
Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal:
"That win was important. Of course it's three points but in this kind of game it's more than three points. To me, when we play a team like this and you win and your perform with this level, we had a plan to this game and they did absolutely fantastic.
"We had three very clear chances to score but this is football and I think we completely deserve the win and the three points.
"My players fought a lot and they played with the quality that we expect.
"I think we made beautiful situations. We win together and we lost together. Today we won against the best team of the competition."
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez:
"I think the first half we made two or three mistakes and we gave them chances. We conceded in a free-kick after making a silly mistake.
"When we scored the goal, we had more chances and we were there on top of them but we have to manage that a bit better and see what happens.
"We need to have more control. We made mistakes and at this level you can't do that. I feel that the first 15 minutes in the second half we were on top of them. I'm a bit disappointed because we didn't handle the game well."