Sheffield Wednesday 4 (Forestieri-pen 20, 25, Pudil 59, Hooper 89)
Wolves 1 (Afobe-pen 15)
Wolves slumped to one of their heaviest defeats of the season when, after taking the lead against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, they conceded four goals in a game that carried little festive cheer for those that had travelled up from the Midlands.
Following the defeat by Leeds, Kenny Jackett made two changes to his side. Dave Edwards and Adam Le Fondre were named as substitutes with Nathan Byrne and Matt Doherty coming into the starting line-up.
Wolves kicked-off defending the Leppings Lane end in which around 1,000 Wolves fans were situated.
James Henry, playing in the ‘number 10’ position behind Benik Afobe, slid a diagonal pass into the box for Jordon Graham to run onto but the winger’s attempt to find Afobe was cut out by a defender.
Fernando Forestieri curled a 20- yarder into the arms of Carl Ikeme before good work by Henry opened up the home defence. He dispossessed Barry Bannan and spotting Keiren Westwood was off his line, tried a 30-yard chip that landed on the roof of the net.
But the visitors did take the lead in the 15th minute, from the penalty spot. Doherty took a short pass from Graham and ran into the Wednesday box only to be tripped by Jack Hunt. Afobe sent Westwood the wrong way from the spot (pictured).
Just five minutes later it was all square again after Wednesday were awarded a penalty of their own. Lucas Joao ran through the middle and with Doherty on one side and Danny Batth on the other, he went down. The referee, several yards behind the play, hesitated before deciding to award the spot kick and Forestieri made no mistake.
Worse was to follow as The Owls took a 25th minute lead. Batth’s headed clearance as he was challenged by Joao only went as far as Forestieri who, from just inside the box, rifled the ball into the back of the net.
Jack Price was booked for a challenge on Hunt and then Byrne was in the wrong position to get any direction on his header at the far post following a good cross from Graham.
Both Joao and Forestieri had shots blocked by Ikeme in quick succession and when Wallace ran in for a third pot at goal his effort went wide.
As the half drew to a close, Henry was too high with a long-range free-kick before, deep into stoppage time, Ikeme was penalised for picking up Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s back pass on the side of the six-yard box.
With most of the Wolves team stationed on the goal-line, the wall did its job as Ross Wallace struck a fierce shot. The ball rebounded to Joao and his follow up was heading for goal until Ikeme somehow got across to touch the ball onto the inside of the post from where it bounced to safety.
Half-Time: Owls 2 Wolves 1
There wasn’t much to choose between the sides in the early exchanges of the new half. An inswinging cross from Graham was just too high for Afobe and Ikeme dived low to claim an angled drive from Forestieri from the left edge of the area.
Wednesday got a third goal, though, after 59 minutes after the visiting defence failed to clear its lines following a Wednesday corner allowing Daniel Pudil to fire past Ikeme from the 18-yard line.
After Grant Holt had been sent on for Byrne, Wolves had a lucky escape after Ikeme had left his area to clear. The keeper looked to be shoved as he chased the ball on the right wing but the referee waved play on and when Forestieri tried to find the empty net from wide on the right, his effort went narrowly over the bar.
In the 71st minute Wanderers were close to cutting the deficit when Graham’s corner produced a bout of head tennis in the Wednesday goalmouth which ended with Hunt clearing Ebanks=Landell’s header off the line.
Forestieri had the chance of completing his hat-trick when the ball was laid into his path some 15-yards out. But with the home fans preparing to celebrate, he blazed the ball high over the bar.
Forestieri was replaced by Afdhe Nuhlu for the closing stages and the substitute helped wrap things up for Wednesday in the 89th minute. He played a short through pass to Gary Hooper and he took a couple of steps before converting from close-range and completing Wolves’ afternoon of misery.
Owls: Westwood, Hutchinson, Loovens (capt), Hooper, Joao (Helan 58), Lee, Hunt, Wallace, Pudil, Bannan, Forestieri (Nuhlu 83).
Unused subs: Wildsmith, Semedo, McGugan, Wiggins, Sougou.
Wolves: Ikeme, Iorfa, Doherty, Byrne (Holt 63), Batth (capt), Ebanks-Landell, Henry, Price, Afobe, McDonald, Graham.
Unused subs: McCarey, Golbourne, Edwards, Wallace, Coady, Le Fondre.
Bookings: Price (30 – foul), McDonald (42 – foul).
Referee: M. Brown.