ABEL HERNANDEZ justified the faith of manager Steve Bruce by rescuing a point for Hull City at Hillsborough.
The Tigers £10m record signing had only returned from international duty with uruguay on Thursday evening after a gruelling trip to south America that included an appearance amid the high altitude of Bolivia.
Bruce had considered resting Hernandez but opted to stick with his top scorer, who rewarded the City chief with a clinical finish.
It was enough to cancel out Fernando Forestieri’s first half strike and ensured honours ended even between two of Yorkshire’s in form clubs.
The clash - which was shown live by Sky - had been a slow burner during the first quarter but it came to life once Wednesday had gone ahead.
In that first half, Hull had dominated possession and yet it was the hosts who carried a much bigger threat when in the vicinity of Allan McGregor’s goal.
This was never more evident than in the 28th minute, as Tom Lees picked out Forestieri with a deft header and the Italian - being played onside by both Ahmed Elmohamady and Curtis Davies swept the ball into the net from close range.
Having had an early penalty appeal turned down after Kieran Lee had gone down under a challenge from Michael Dawson, the Owls felt justice had been done.
Carvalhal’s men should, though, have scored at least one more goal before the break with Tom Lees heading into the side-netting from a Ross Wallace corner and Lucas Joao showing tremendous strength to hold off two challenges before firing a shot goalwards that McGregor did well to save.
Forestieri then pounced on the rebound only for Davies to block.
Just before the interval, Barry Bannan fired high and wide when well placed after City had again been opened up.
The Tigers, meanwhile, had plenty of the ball but rarely looked like unlocking the Wednesday defence with Kieren Westwood’s only save of note being to turn away a Jake Livermore shot that was heading wide anyway.
Bruce’s response was to send Chuba Akpom out to warm-up for much of the interval and then bring the loanee striker on just four minutes after the restart in place of the anonymous Mohamed Diame.
Within two minutes, Akpom had latched on to an Ahmed Elmohamady pass to start a move that ended with Hernandez firing in the equaliser.
A pinpoint pass from Livermore created the opening and Hernandez came close to making it 2-1 just after the hour with a header that Westwood did brilliantly to turn round the post.
Sam Clucas was the next to go close with a fiercely-struck drive that flashed just wide of Westwood’s right hand post.
Play raced up the other end almost immediately and Bannan curled an exquisite cross that just evaded Forestieri in the six yard box.
Allan McGregor then rescued City with a stunning reflex save to prevent Andrew Roberston netting an own goal.
Hull boss Steve Bruce was delighted his gamble to play Hernandez paid off and said of his goal-scorer: “He has been halfway around the world, played in Bolivia, which is one of the highest altitudes in earth.
“The big thing was coming back from scoring for Uruguay, who have got Suarez and Cavani, he’s in decent company and you could see yesterday that he’s had a good week and he’s had a good couple of weeks.
“Long may that continue because everyone needs a goalscorer and he at the moment is doing well.
“I thought about not playing him but yesterday in training made my mind up because he was as bright as a button, he was lively. So I thought he was in a rich vein of form, but you take a bit of a gamble.”
H“We knew that was going to be difficult, that was arguably the best Sheffield Wednesday team I have seen over the last few years,” Bruce added. “They have got an impressive coach, they have got a bit of quality they have brought in, they are a handful and the crowd at last seem like they have got something to shout about, which is good for the city.
“It’s a steeped-in-history club and it’s good to see them on the mend if that’s the right word.”
Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal knew the failure to get a second goal when they were on top was costly.
“I said before the game we would play against one of the strongest team in the Championship, they have a lot of experience in the Premier League,” the Portuguese said. “They are organised and have a good coach.
“I am very happy with our team and players, we played special in the first half, we scored and could have scored more. It was complete justice, the score at half-time and if we got a second goal the story would be different.
“Because they are strong team they had a reaction in the second half. They were better in the second half, but we created more chances in the first half, they had big problems.
“But I think a point is correct, but I am happy because we played a strong team. It’s a point that is positive.”