Words: Ben Woodcock
Slaven Bilic saw his side cruise to a 3-0 success at Hillsborough courtesy of goals from Charlie Austin and a Matheus Pereira double, after holding out throughout a first-half where the home side were in the ascendancy.
Without question, Wednesday hit the ground running but could not capitalise on their dominance which helped them rack up six first half corners without converting from any.
Connor Wickham, who was in search of his third goal in as many games, came closest with his header into the side netting. He was then on hand to set up Adam Reach who fired his effort wide.
Albion made Wednesday pay for not breaking the deadlock from their numerous set-pieces. When Moses Odubajo was judged to have pulled down Dara O’Shea, referee David Webb eventually pointed to the spot.
Charlie Austin, making his first start since February, made no mistake from 12 yards to notch his ninth goal of the campaign and put the Baggies firmly in control going into the second-half.
After the break, the visitors controlled proceedings for the most part and doubled their lead in the 58th minute. After good hold up play from Callum Robinson, Matheus Pereira headed a Kieran Gibbs delivery well out of the reach of Joe Wildsmith and in off the inside of the post.
It was now a long way back for The Owls, but their efforts did not drop. Just three minutes after going 2-0 down, Kadeem Harris dribbled his way through Albion’s midfield before thumping his curling shot against the upright with Sam Johnstone scrambling.
Wildsmith was then called upon to deny Kamil Grosicki from close range but was unable to prevent a third goal a matter of minutes later.
Pereira was on hand to seal the points to take his side a point behind league leaders Leeds United in the 85th minute when he swept home a powerful strike that Wildsmith got a foot to but was unable to divert wide.
View from the dugout:
Garry Monk said to the club’s media: “I think anyone watching the game will think that’s a harsh score-line. We looked the sharper team in the first half but didn’t make the most of that and then it’s that decision making.
“There were a lot of good things the team did but there are things we have to do better. We had to change it in the second half to chase it which left us more exposed. It was a score-line we didn’t deserve but their freshness showed after half time.”
Slaven Bilic told local BBC radio: “I liked the performance. It was not easy to play that game. There was big pressure on us and we responded like a proper, mature, quality team and that’s what I like about it.
“Everybody gave everything and that was expected. You can crumble under the pressure, but we didn’t. I’m really proud of the guys. Hopefully we are back in town.”
Man of the Match: Matheus Pereira
Not only did he chip in with his seventh and eighth goals this term, his first goals since February 12th, his all-round creativity and performance stood out above the other 21 players on the pitch. His first goal was a perfectly directed header and his second a strike with fierce power. With 16 assists across the length of the season so far, he has been key to Albion’s push to the Premier League and that shone through against Wednesday. He could certainly be a player that Bilic looks to make a permanent fixture at the Hawthorns having spent this season on loan from Portuguese outfit Sporting CP.