On-form Sheffield Wednesday thrash Brentford and keep promotion dream alive
An early red card for Brentford's Yoann Barbet allowed Sheffield Wednesday to cruise to a 4-0 victory at Hillsborough.
Goals from Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee and Lucas Joao kept the promotion-chasing Owls in the hunt for an automatic spot in the Sky Bet Championship.
After a frantic start where Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was forced into a smart save by Alan Judge, a hopeful fifth minute clearance fell kindly into the path of Wednesday's Hooper who, clean through on goal, had his legs clumsily taken on the edge of the box by Barbet.
The referee adjudged that Barbet had prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity and showed him a straight red card.
Ross Wallace saw his resulting free-kick smartly tipped wide by keeper David Button.
Wednesday did not take long to capitalise on their extra man and they opened the scoring through Forestieri in the 12th minute.
The former Watford forward now has a dozen goals for the season after heading in a deflected Daniel Pudil cross from close range.
Forestieri was almost punished for over indulgence in the 28th minute as his misjudged back heel to Barry Bannan, on the edge of his own area, let Sergi Canos through on goal. The on-loan Liverpool forward was unable to capitalise on the opportunity and had a weak effort saved by Westwood.
Wednesday doubled their lead in the 30th minute through a well taken half-volley by Hooper. The striker scored his eighth goal in seven league games after capitalising on a defence-splitting pass from Westwood and striking home from the edge of the area.
On the stroke of half time, Wednesday added a third through Lee. The midfielder took on a cushioned knock down by Hooper, outmuscled his marker Harlee Dean, and finished from inside the six-yard box.
In the second half, Wednesday began to dominate the possession as their opponents tired.
Brentford desperately looked for a way back into the game and, in the 59th minute, Westwood was forced into action, saving a stinging drive from Judge down to his right.
The Owls introduced new signing Aiden McGeady on the hour mark and he was unlucky to see a 63rd minute effort go narrowly wide of the post.
Forestieri could, and probably should, have got his second of the game in the 83rd minute but he could only strike the ball over the bar under pressure from Button.
Substitute Joao got the home side's fourth in the 89th minute, smashing the ball past the despairing Button from just inside the area.
Wednesday are now unbeaten in their last seven league games.