Lee Tomlin and Jonathan Kodjia netted from the spot as Bristol City took a giant step towards Championship survival with a 4-1 hammering of promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday at Ashton Gate.
The hosts took a 10th-minute lead when the unmarked Tomlin met an Adam Matthews cross from the right with a sweet volley at the far post and the ball found a way in despite the combined efforts of goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith and two defenders on the line.
Wildsmith, a late replacement for Keiren Westwood, was thought to have got the final touch. He was beaten again three minutes later when Luke Freeman latched onto a quickly taken free kick and picked out Bobby Reid, who found the top corner with a right-footed shot from 12 yards.
City were out of sight by the break as Tomlin rifled in a 42nd-minute penalty, beating Wildsmith’s dive to his right after being brought down by Liam Palmer.
And a second spot-kick on 52 minutes piled on the agony for the visitors. Reid was tripped by Wildsmith after moving onto a Kodjia pass and it was Kodjia who netted his 16th goal of the season with a low penalty as Tomlin had been substituted with an injury at the break.
Wednesday grabbed a consolation on 61 minutes when substitute Ross Wallace’s left-footed free kick from 30 yards went in off first the post and then the fingertips of City keeper Richard O’Donnell.
But it was a disappointing trip for the 1,467 fans who made the long journey from Yorkshire and their side could have no complaints.
The first half blitz followed a bright Wednesday start in which City keeper O’Donnell did well to block an Aiden McGeady shot following a mistake by Korey Smith.
Barry Bannan was just off target with a sixth minute free kick, but once the home side went in front they could have had more first half goals.
Wildsmith saved well from Kodjia’s 20th-minute shot, with Smith just failing to convert the rebound. And Marlon Pack volleyed straight at the Wednesday keeper from a Freeman corner.
Freeman should have scored himself on 35 minutes when played in by Reid after good work by Kodjia, but the shot was a good height for Wildsmith to make another save.
The second half continued to see chances at both ends, with Kodjia shooting narrowly wide and Bannan going close with another free kick.
But, while Wednesday continued to press, City never looked like surrendering a victory that took them 10 points clear of the drop zone.
Head coach Carlos Carvalhal admitted: “It was a day off for us in the Championship. It is a long competition and you get accidents along the way.
“We started strongly, moving the ball well and creating good chances. I think the players thought it was going to be easy and their heads went into the clouds.
“It was hard to understand the first half. After the second goal we lost control of the game and Bristol deserved to be three goals up
“The second half was different. Again they scored from their first attack, but we were more like ourselves, should have had a penalty when Marco Matias was fouled, and kept fighting to the end.”
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