Sheffield Wednesday go into Monday’s play-off semi final second leg ahead in the tie after a 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at Hillsborough this evening.
Ross Wallace fired the hosts in front with a powerful low shot from 25 yards in first half stoppage time after Fernando Forestieri had seen his earlier strike ruled out for offside.
And Kieran Lee doubled Wednesday’s advantage going into the return match after linking up superb with Fernando Forestieri on 73 minutes, before coolly clipping the ball past David Stockdale.
After resting key players for last weekend’s trip to Wolves, Carlos Carvalhal changed his entire team with Wallace back in the starting line-up after serving a three-match ban.
And the Owls wasted little time going on the offensive from kick-off as they piled the early pressure on the visitors.
The Seagulls responded with Tomer Hemed flicking an angled header against the post before Wallace almost marked his return with a goal as he drilled low and hard from 20 yards out, but Stockdale produced a diving save to tip around the post.
Wednesday thought they had taken the lead on 19 minutes when Gary Hooper appeared to have knocked the ball on for Forestieri, who held off Connor Goldson before firing home.
But the referee’s assistant cut the celebrations short after it was deemed that Hooper did not in fact get a touch and thus Forestieri was offside from Keiren Westwood’s long punt.
The signs were still encouraging for the Owls, though, who were enjoying the better of the play, whereas Brighton had to contend with two first half injuries as defender Goldson and top scorer Tomer Hemed were forced off through injury.
The breakthrough was coming and in stoppage time at the end of the first period Wednesday took the lead.
Wallace received the ball 25 yards from goal and let fly with a fizzing low shot that flew past the outstretched arm of Stockdale and into the bottom corner.
Mirroring the first half, Wednesday went straight on the offensive after the break as Daniel Pudil met Wallace’s cut-back but his wicked first-time strike whipped just wide of the post.
Brighton’s night went from bad to worse as Steve Sidwell limped off to join Goldson and Hemed on the treatment table, followed shortly by star midfielder Anthony Knockaert who was stretchered off with an ankle injury.
Reduced to ten men, Chris Hughton’s side had a chance to level after winning a free kick on the edge of the area but Jiri Skalak couldn’t quite keep his effort down.
Having thrown on both Atdhe Nuhiu and Marco Matias in a bid to extend the lead, the Owls grabbed a deserved second on the 73 minutes.
The lively Forestieri threaded the ball through the backline for Lee to chase, and after timing his run perfectly the latter flicked past the advancing Stockdale and into the net.
Wednesday pushed for a third goal to take to the Amex Stadium on Monday but despite their best efforts settled for a 2-0 lead as referee Andre Marriner sounded the full time whistle to bring to an end a thoroughly solid and efficient Owls performance.
Wednesday: Westwood, Loovens, Hooper (Joao, 82), Lees, Lee, Lopez (Nuhiu, 63), Hunt, Wallace (Matias, 67), Pudil, Bannan, Forestieri.