COOL HAND LUK GROUNDS OWLS
Rowett’s changes inspire victory at the very last
FORTUNE favoured the brave as substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz’s 93rd-minute header sent Birmingham soaring into the play-off places.
Jutkiewicz looped a deftlytimed header beyond Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood from a brilliant cross by Jacques Maghoma barely 60 seconds after Atdhe Nuhiu thumped the bar at the other end.
Victory was richly deserved after striker Clayton Donaldson’s penalty cancelled out Gary Hooper’s 76th minute goal that came against the run of the second-half play.
Owls manager Carlos Carvalhal said: “We came here to win, to play our football and create our chances and we did. We had a lot of clear chances in the first half and I don’t remember our goalkeeper making a save.
“In the second half we were still trying to win – that’s why we brought on Gary Hooper who made it 1-0. “I don’t talk about referees’ decisions but I had a chat with him on the pitch at the end. “I am very proud of my players and the fans and we ran to the end. You have to say congratulations to Birmingham but that’s football.” Owls impressed in the opening 25 minutes with their fluid passing style before Birmingham eased them out of their stride and got back into the game before half-time. Fernando Forestieri had the clearest sight of goal in the seventh minute after a near pass from Steve Fletcher only for goalkeeper Adam Legzdins to narrow the angle and block his shot. Barry Bannon’s adventurous chip drifted narrowly over, Almen Abdi flashed a header onto the roof of the net and
defender Ryan Shotton made a couple of good blocks as Brum had to weather a storm.
A mistimed tackle from skipper Glenn Loovens on Maghoma had the Blues appealing for a penalty. The Owls escaped but the pattern of the half changed from that flashpoint.
Che Adams volleyed Maghoma’s cross over and Donaldson began to make inroads, winning a free-kick from which Westwood saved from Maghoma and then volleying wildly over.
Birmingham retained the initiative after the break with Westwood making a couple of solid saves in the opening five minutes from Maikel Kieftenbeld and Maghoma.
Donaldson then shot wide from an acute angle before a superb piece of skill by Fletcher. He flicked the ball to Hooper – despite being on the ground – giving the former Celtic striker the chance to open the scoring.
Donaldson’s drive rescued Blues five minutes later as his pace lured Westwood into a desperate challenge. Contact was probably minimal but the striker calmly converted the spot kick, and then came Jutkiewicz’s intervention.
Blues manager Gary Rowett said: “We don’t come back from behind too often – so that made it an even bigger victory for us.
“We should have had a stonewall penalty in the first half. The referee was only four yards away but didn’t give it.
“I felt the Wednesday goal came against the run of play but Clayton put on the burners and got us back in the game. He has taken responsibility with the penalty before Lukas came up with his elusive goal.”
PARTY TIME: Birmingham celebrate their late winner