REPORT: Owls 3-0 Cardiff
Wednesday made sure of a place in the play-offs with a convincing 3-0 win over their only challengers, Cardiff, at Hillsborough.
Having bossed the crunch clash from start to finish, a top-six slot was just reward for the Owls, who took the lead in the second half through the excellent Gary Hooper.
The striker then played a huge role in the decisive second, with the dubious goals panel likely to judge if Hooper’s angled effort was heading in before Cardiff defender Lee Peltier got the final touch.
Hooper then added further gloss to a terrific performance when he lifted the ball over the on-rushing David Marshall in stoppage time to ensure the season will extend beyond the regular finale at Wolves next weekend.
The Owls started on the front foot, asking all the early questions as the Bluebirds struggled to get out of their won half.
Lucas Joao twice threatened, as did Glenn Loovens and Daniel Pudil.
Next it was Hooper to turn the screw, drilling a super shot from 20 yards that beat David Marshall all ends up but cannoned back into play off the post.
The visitors weathered the early storm and chanced their arm, with Peter Whittingham firing narrowly wide after Keiren Westwood palmed away a dangerous corner from the same player.
But for the remainder of the first half it was all Wednesday, with the only thing missing a goal to punctuate their dominance.
It was more of the same after the break as the Owls pressed and Cardiff relied on the counter, as evidenced on the hour when Craig Noone forced Westwood into an albeit comfortable save.
But play soon reverted to type and the Welsh dam burst on 64 minutes.
Marshall saved well from a Pudil snapshot and Hooper was on hand to calmly slot into the roof of the net from six yards.
Then, with 15 minutes to go, the game was all but out of Cardiff’s reach.
Hooper showed terrific determination to chase a long cause down the right flank and after winning a duel with the outrushing Marshall, curled towards the Kop net – Peltier appeared to get the final touch right on the line.
Marshall saved well from Joao at the death but was powerless to prevent Hooper grabbing his second goal of the game in added time.
The striker applied a delicate finish over the Cardiff shot-stopper to emphatically confirm Wednesday’s place in the play-offs.
Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Loovens, Lees, Pudil (Helan 81), Lopez, Bannan, Lee, Forestieri (Nuhiu 70), Joao (Matias 86), Hooper