REPORT: Brighton 1-1 Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday are into the Championship play-off final after a 1-1 second leg draw with Brighton in the semis.
After winning the first leg 2-0 at Hillsborough, Wednesday booked their place in the final 3-1 on aggregate where they will face either Hull or Derby.
The Seagulls came at the Owls from the off and took the lead through Lewis Dunk after the defender volleyed an Anthony Knockaert free kick home from close range.
However, Wednesday hit back on 28 minutes when Ross Wallace’s deep cross flew over the head of Gary Hooper and squeezed inside the far post.
The Owls fought tooth and nail to deny their hosts further chances and after six minutes of stoppage time at the end of the 90, the Owls earned their spot in the Wembley showpiece.
Head coach Carlos Carvalhal opted for an unchanged side from the team that beat Brighton in the reverse fixture three days ago.
The hosts had a two-goal deficit to overturn and from the first whistle went on the attack.
Three minutes in and the Wednesday defence were called into action to produce heroic blocks from point-blank range by Steve Sidwell and James Wilson.
Knockaert had been a major doubt for the hosts through injury in the first leg, but the Belgian wideman was at the heart of almost every Brighton attack.
His first free kick on nine minutes curled over the wall and struck the inside of Keiren Westwood’s post, before being denied after trying to trick the Owls’ keeper with his second by placing it underneath the wall.
The Seagulls were launching attack after attack, and on 18 minutes they finally found the breakthrough. Knockaert’s free kick from wide right fizzed across the goal and defender Dunk was on hand to volley home from close range.
Wednesday did well to keep the home side at bay but ten minutes later fashioned an unlikely equaliser through Wallace.
The Scot’s cross from the right hand side evaded everyone inside the penalty area before nestling inside the far corner.
The goal silenced the Amex Stadium briefly but the hosts wasted little time going back on the offensive and came close after a flurry of chances for primarily Wilson and Beram Kayal.
With the game destined to be level at the interval, the Owls came agonisingly close to finding a second.
Fernando Forestieri swerved in an inch-perfect cross with the outside of his boot right on to the head of Gary Hooper but goalkeeper David Stockdale produced a fine reaction stop to palm away the danger.
The second half was quite a nervy affair as neither side would give the other an inch.
Jiri Skalak took aim from the edge of the area three minutes from the restart but saw his powerful strike thumped away by Westwood.
At the other end, Barry Bannan brought the ball forwards over 40 yards before testing Stockdale with a vicious drive which Stockdale spilled but Wallace couldn’t find a team mate from the follow up.
With Sam Hutchinson, Jeremy Helan and Atdhe Nuhiu all on for the Owls, Wednesday were doing tremendously at limiting Brighton’s chances in front of goal.
As six minutes of injury time was announced the outstanding Westwood produced another sensational stop to deny goalscorer Dunk a second of the evening.
With the Owls repelling every cross that entered their box, just like they’d done all evening, referee Roger East blew the full time whistle to speak jubilation amongst the Wednesday fans and players alike.
Wednesday: Westwood, Loovens, Hooper (Nuhiu, 71), Lees, Lee, Lopez (Hutchinson, 46), Hunt, Wallace (Helan, 65), Pudil, Bannan, Forestieri