Blackburn 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2: Owls’ Joao cashes in again on ‘correct environment’

Lucas Joao scored after coming off the bench for the fourth time this season to earn Sheffield Wednesday a point at Ewood Park.

Lucas Joao heads home Sheffield Wednesdays late equaliser against Blackburn Rovers (Picture: Steve Ellis).

It was his seventh goal overall in this campaign, but Owls’ head coach Carlos Carvalhal explained that, despite obvious pressure to start his prolific striker, it is more important to make sure there is the “correct environment” in which Joao can flourish.

“It’s not a question of playing at the beginning, it’s about creating the correct environment so Joao can make the difference and we are trying to create this kind of environment,” he said.

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“Of course when you go on the pitch with energy in the correct environment, you are helping the team and scoring goals.”

This credible draw at Blackburn leaves the Owls level on points with sixth-placed Birmingham and Carvalhal believes the point was the least that his side deserved in a game that was always going to be difficult because of new Blackburn manager Paul Lambert’s arrival.

“We knew the environment of this game would not be easy because Blackburn have good players, a good coach, changed their coach, his first home game, so they came with a full energy,” he said. “They are very strong in corners and free-kicks.

“We scored the (second) goal, we tried until the last second to win. We deserved the minimum of a draw but I think we fought a lot to try and win the game.”

Blackburn appeared to be heading for victory in Lambert’s first home game, which started with Hope Akpan opening the scoring with a fifth-minute header.

Although Modou Sougou tapped in a 40th-minute equaliser, Blackburn were ahead just before half-time through Corry Evans’s deflected strike.

Wednesday improved after the break and Joao’s header five minutes from time ensured Blackburn’s 100 per cent start under their new boss was ended.

However, Lambert did not dwell too much on the setback and instead praised the “excellent” work-rate of his side in a performance that stretched the club’s unbeaten run to five.

He said: “When you draw a game like that, the dressing room becomes a bit low,. That can be a bit false because the effort and work-rate was excellent.”

Blackburn: Steele, Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson, Marshall, Evans, Akpan, Conway, Taylor, Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Spurr, Delfouneso, Brown, Eastwood, Henry, Lawrence, Guthrie.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Pudil, Sougou, Lee, Semedo, Helan, Forestieri, Nuhiu. Unused substitutes: McGugan, Hooper, Lucas Joao, Lopez, Dielna, Wildsmith, Wallace.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex).

“When you draw a game like that, the dressing room becomes a bit low,” he said.

“That can be a bit false because the effort and work-rate was excellent.

“The goals they scored were fortuitous but the second one was a blow because I thought we would see it through, but I said to the lads don’t be too dejected. I thought we were well worthy of getting something.

“Ideally, I’d love to have the three (points) but it’s a game we could have lost. Overall, four points out of six since we’ve been here is a good return.”

It was a good early test for Lambert as Wednesday are going along nicely in the Sky Bet Championship, having lost just once in their last 14 games in all competitions and the strength of their bench saw Gary Hooper and Joao come on at half-time.

The latter scored after coming off the bench for the fourth time this season, which was his seventh goal overall in this campaign.