Sunderland 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2: Owls jog to the line to complete remarkable escape from Championship relegation

Sheffield Wednesday did not just beat Championship relegation, they did it with something to spare.

Having set all manner of records for the worst start to a campaign, just taking their fight for survival all the way to the final day at the Stadium of Light was an ambitious enough goal, as it was they were slowing down as the breasted the tape.

It was incredible to think this was the same team that took just three points from their opening 13 games but then, it was not really. The personnel has not changed all that much but everything else has since Danny Rohl, installed as manager in October, got his feet under the table.

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No wonder it was his name that got sung the most after "We are staying up!". No wonder nobody dared leave the away end before they got to see the full squad and playing staff dancing like it was their first school disco – complete, of course, with Will Vaulks body-popping.

MR RELIABLE: Centre-back Liam Palmer celebrates only his 10th league goal for Sheffield WednesdayMR RELIABLE: Centre-back Liam Palmer celebrates only his 10th league goal for Sheffield Wednesday
MR RELIABLE: Centre-back Liam Palmer celebrates only his 10th league goal for Sheffield Wednesday

The Owls finished their season with three straight wins – all featuring goals from Josh Windass – and wrapped their last up before half-time against Sunderland.

What ought to have been a fingernail-devouring second half was actually fairly tepid, a combination of the Black Cats' ineffectiveness and the Owls clinical edge in the first 45 minutes.

All their relegations rivals did their best to pile on the pressure, everyone involved in the relegation scrap (Huddersfield Town were in name only) leading in the second half but Sheffield Wednesday's 2-0 lead meant they did not have to pay attention. The constant flow of celebratory songs from the away end never relented.

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Evidently no one remembered to tell their players this was meant to be squeaky-bum day.

CHANCES: Ike Ugbo of Sheffield WednesdayCHANCES: Ike Ugbo of Sheffield Wednesday
CHANCES: Ike Ugbo of Sheffield Wednesday

They were lucky to be playing Sunderland, the second half of their season in collapse, their fans going from flat to very angry as the first half unfolded, their players giving every impression because after getting their agents to carefully read their contracts, they realised they had to.

But on days like this, it is as much about you as the opposition, and Wednesday looked calm and confident.

The only concern early on was they were not clinical, Windass having a shot blocked when a corner was rolled back to him, Anthony Musaba not quite able to stretch to a cross his team-mate put in, and Ike Ugbo heading a Pol Valentin cross over.

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Windass pulled a shot wide from a tight angle after Barry Bannan played him in over the offside trap.

WINGING IT: Marvin Johnson of Sheffield Wednesday controls the ball under pressure from Trai HumeWINGING IT: Marvin Johnson of Sheffield Wednesday controls the ball under pressure from Trai Hume
WINGING IT: Marvin Johnson of Sheffield Wednesday controls the ball under pressure from Trai Hume

But once the visitors went in front in the 29th minute, there was a feel of inevitability about it – probably more amongst the home fans than those up in the gods of the way end.

Sunderland had not long put a shot across their bows, the Owls' rhythm disrupted by lengthy treatment for goalkeeper James Beadle. Quickly after Luke O'Nien headed in a Callum Styles free-kick, only for the offside flag to go up.

Wednesday took the hint to get on with it, crafting a lovely goal in a move which ended with Valentin pulling the ball back from the byline, Bannan bouncing a first-time pass into the area and Liam Palmer, the club's Mr Reliable, finishing like... well, not like Liam Palmer.

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The second came in the 38th minute, again from Valentin barreling towards the byline, beating a half-hearted Aji Alese and watching Windass sweeping in his deflected cross to the soundtrack of boos and more chants of "We are staying up!"

When Valentin came inside to win the ball, Ugbo's shot was smothered, and Vaulks shot wildly when Musaba picked his way through and laid the ball back.

It felt like the Owls could score at will.

They did have to stay honest, though, with their defence giving up some decent chances.

Leeds United product Jack Clarke curled an effort against the post with Beadle beaten five minutes after the opener, Di'Shon Bernard needed to produce a big block to deny Trai Hume and Patrick Roberts ballooned a great chance after Alese did his best Valentin impression with a pull-back from the byline. Beadle had to save low from Clarke just before the break.

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The second half was just marking time, quite a few Sunderland shots but never a sense that the Owls would not be rounding things off with a clean sheet.

Adil Aouchiche flicked a header wide, Chris Rigg came off the left to volley wide under pressure and Beadle saved from Aouchiche and Clarke.

Perhaps not wanting to trigger a riot, the Owls largely kept a respectable distance from the home goal, Dan Ballard's block of a Bannan shot the exception to the rule.

Nobody could describe this season as easy for a side inspired by Rohl's arrival, but the last game actually was.

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Now the hard work really starts. Key payers on the field and in the dressing room such as Bannan, Pamer and Windass are yet to be offered new contracts, and whilst his first season in English football has shown Rohl the potential at Hillsborough, it will only make him more eager to get the support needed to fulfil it, with a long queue of suitors if he cannot be persuaded.

At least insipid Sunderland did their best to put him off joining them.

But they are problems to resolve from the Championship. Not all that long ago, that seemed almost impossible.

Sunderland: Bishop; Hume, Ballard, O'Nien, Alese (Hemir 80); Ekwah (Ba 71), Styles (Evans HT); Roberts (Rigg HT), Bellingham, Clarke (Watson 86); Aouchiche.

Unused substitutes: Patterson, Pembele, Mundle, Dack.

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Sheffield Wednesday: Beadle; Iorfa, Bernard, Palmer (Ihiekwe 90); Valentín (B Diaby 64), Vaulks, Bannan, Johnson; Windass (Paterson 64), Ugbo (Smith 76), Musaba (Gassama 76).

Unused substitutes: Dawson, Famewo, Cadamarteri, M Diaby.

Referee: G Ward (Surrey).

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