Sheffield Wednesday 2 Newcastle United 1: Carlos Carvalhal hails "absolutely fantastic" Owls performance

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey and Sheffield Wednesday's David Jones battle for the ball (Photo: Steve Ellis)
Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey and Sheffield Wednesday's David Jones battle for the ball (Photo: Steve Ellis)
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SECOND-HALF headers from Tom Lees and Steven Fletcher saw vibrant Sheffield Wednesday seal a noteworthy double over title-chasing Newcastle United - with the Owls producing one of their best performances of the campaign at just the right juncture.

Pilloried in several quarters for the quality of their displays for much of this term, Wednesday fired a broadside in the direction of their detractors with an excellent performance to inflict a first away defeat since January 2 upon Rafael Benitez's side.

A late goal from the outstanding Jonjo Shelvey ensured that Wednesday had to see out the game somewhat nervously, but there no doubting the merit of their victory, which was thoroughly deserved.

It was just Newcastle's fourth away loss of the season, with the Magpies denied a clean sweep of Championship away victories in Yorkshire after earlier wins at Rotherham, Barnsley, Leeds and Huddersfield.

More importantly for Wednesday, victory saw them jump back up into the play-off positions after dropping to seventh ahead of kick-off after Fulham's victory over Ipswich.

Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal said: “We had a plan for this game and they did absolutely fantastic. They did exactly what I told them to do .We caused a lot of problems for Newcastle.

Sheffield Wednesday's Glenn Loovens beats Newcastle United's Daryl Murphy to the ball

Sheffield Wednesday's Glenn Loovens beats Newcastle United's Daryl Murphy to the ball

We had three very clear chances to score on the break. We conceded a goal when Newcastle were much more in the game. We deserved completely to win. The players ran, fought a lot and played with the quality we expect.

“We win together and we lose together. We win today in an important moment of the season against the best team in the league. We depend on ourselves. We play Fulham in the final game. We don’t look to others.

"We look to ourselves and we know what we must do to achieve the position. We want to recover enough to players to finish in a good position.”

Headline news on the team news front saw Jordan Rhodes demoted to the pitch, with Carlos Carvalhal switching to a 4-4-2, with Gary Hooper partnering Fletcher up front, with Adam Reach switching to his usual position on the left wing, with Daniel Pudil coming in at left-back.

Fernando Forestieri was named on the substitutes bench after missing the last four games with a knee injury - but in the event, Wednesday did not need to call upon his services to orchestrate victory.

It was a half in which Hooper was hugely influential in an excellent offensive display from the Owls, with the only thing that was missing being a goal - although the Owls were fortunate not to go down to ten men after a late challenge from Barry Bannan on Matt Ritchie, which earned a yellow card and not a red.

Hooper knocked on wood in the second minute after profiting from Paul Dummett's hashed clearance after fine work down the left from Reach and Pudil, but the home marksman saw his curled effort hit the crossbar - a chance he should really have put away.

The home pressure continued with Newcastle harassed and stretched for much of a first half in which the Magpies looked nothing like a side with comfortably the best away record in the division.

United - who saw top-scorer Dwight Gayle go off just before the half-hour mark with a knock almost stole an interval lead moments before the break with a remarkable and thoroughly audacious effort from the centre circle from Shelvey, whose brilliant long-range effort clipped the bar after he spotted Kieren Westwood off his line.

If his stunning strike had gone in, it would have been a first-rate contender for goal of the season, but otherwise, Newcastle looked somewhat ordinary against an Owls side, who produced a vastly-improved performance in the final third.

Unfortunately, they left their shooting boots at home with Fletcher criminally blazing wide after superb play from Bannan and Hooper and the ex-Sunderland man then failed to convert from close range after Hooper wriggled clear down the left, with Karl Darlow making a fine block.

On the restart, the early signs looked a little more ominous for the hosts, with Newcastle upping things, inspired by their talismanic captain Shelvey.

Westwood had to show his mettle on three occasions to deny the Magpies midfielder, smartly saving his low strike before making another key save to turn away his curling free-kick after Jack Hunt fouled Yoan Gouffran.

The Owls keeper then grasped another fierce low angled strike from distance from Shelvey and soon after, the Owls got their break at the other end.

Ross Wallace's inviting free-kick on the right was latched onto by Lees, whose precision downward header flew past Darlow in front of the ecstatic Kop on 59 minutes.

It got better nine minutes later when Fletcher outmuscled Jamaal Lascelles followigng Pudil's long throw and his looping header sailed into the net with Darlow beaten.

Westwood's one-man crusade to deny Shelvey continued when he beat away his fierce strike from 25 yards.

But Westwood was helpless to prevent Shelvey reducing the arrears two minutes from time when he netted a rebound after sub Aleksandar Mitrovic's effort was blocked.

A tense finale saw a Shelvey free-kick blocked, but the hosts held out for famous win - to record their first double over the Geordies since 1986-87.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens (Sasso 45), Pudil; Wallace (Semedo 73), Jones, Bannan, Reach; Hooper (Rhodes 58), Fletcher. Substitutes unused: Wildsmith, Winnall, Palmer, Forestieri.

Newcastle United: Darlow; Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett; Ritchie (Mitrovic 78), Shelvey, Diame (Atsu 72), Gouffran; Perez, Gayle (Murphy 29). Substitutes unused: Elliot, Gamez, Haidara, Ameobi.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Attendance: 28,883.