Fernando Forestieri just loves to tease and torment Huddersfield Town.
Some of the forward’s finest moments in Wednesday colours have come against the West Yorkshire side.
His trickery and vision flummoxed the Terriers in the Owls’ pulsating come-from-behind victory last November in David Wagner’s first match in charge at Hillsborough. He played a key role in all three of Wednesday’s goals.
Yet again Forestieri came back to haunt Huddersfieldin April, grabbing the only goal to the delight of Wednesday’s travelling fans.
Although the 26-year-old has struggled for form this time around ever since he refused to play against Norwich City two months ago, he was a constant menace in yesterday’s Yorkshire derby. He capped a much-improved display by slotting in a 69th minute penalty after Rajiv van La Parra, Huddersfield’s dangerman, was adjudged to have handled Tom Lees’ shot.
It was no more than the visitors deserved as Carlos Carvalhal’s side created the better chances in a cagey, tactical affair.
It was a classic away performance, with Wednesday choosing to sit back and allow the in-form Terriers to dominate possession. When they won the ball back, the Owls broke quickly and in numbers on the counter attack. Carvalhal, tactically, couldn’t have set them up any better.
Tom Lees and Sam Hutchinson were immaculate at the back, David Jones, one of four changes, excelled in midfield and Forestieri and Gary Hooper were a handful for Huddersfield’s defence throughout.
The only criticism is that the margin of victory could, and perhaps, should have been even greater but they got the job done for the second match running on the road.
a positive start
There have been several occasions where people have rightly accused Wednesday of being slow-starts. Not here.
The Owls started on the front foot as midfielder Kieren Lee’s shot was deflected behind before Daniel Pudil hooked an effort across the face of goal. Moments later, Jones, who made a string of key tackles and interceptions, clipped the top of the bar with a cross-shot.
Wagner has transformed Huddersfield from perennial strugglers into genuine promotion candidates but found it difficult to penetrate and get in behind Wednesday’s well-organised backline.
Van La Parra was at the heart of Huddersfield’s best forward forays. He featured prominently in moves which led to Elias Kachunga and Kasey Palmer testing the reflexes of Keiren Westwood.
With eight minutes remaining, Kachunga’s strike was headed off the line by Pudil but the Owls rarely looked troubled as the Terriers missed the opportunity to go back to the top of the table.
“When we play at the home of a team that are doing really well, where they’ve won all their games [this season], we can’t say this is a normal win,” conceded Carvalhal. “We studied Huddersfield, the dynamic that they have and we blocked them very well.”
As is so often the case, Forestieri is the Owls’ main spark and the former Watford man produced a stunning piece of skill four minutes after the re-start. He almost conjured a goal out of nothing after chasing down a long ball.
His first touch was outstanding and allowed him to break clear of Huddersfield’s backline. He raced clear and his delicate chip over the advancing Danny Ward struck the base of the far post. He was desperately unlucky.
Forestieri’s big moment duly arrived midway through the half. It took Premier League referee Graham Scott four or five seconds to award the penalty after Lees’ fierce effort cannoned off La Parra’s arm. It was, ultimately, the correct decision and Forestieri lashed hom from 12 yards.
The goal lifted Wednesday and full-back Tommy Smith brilliantly kept Hooper at bay following great play out wide by Lee before Liam Palmer was denied by Welsh international Ward.
huddersfield jinx goes on
Huddersfield entered the contest boasting a one hundred per cent record on home soil and were backed by their largest home league crowd since moving from Leeds Road 22 years ago.
But Wednesday had the edge in all departments to firmly put the Terriers, the surprise package of the division, in their place.
Victory means the Owls have won on four of their last six trips to Huddersfield without conceding a goal.
Carvalhal said: “Huddersfield are a very strong team. They have a good dynamic and they cause a lot of problems to all the teams they play.
“We worked very hard and everybody defended, including the strikers, and we blocked their dynamic.
“People ask me a lot about the partnerships in our team, but I don’t agree with this, because there’s only one partnership that matters, and that is Sheffield Wednesday as a whole.
“My players were fantastic, great teamwork and this is the way to the future.”
There were no complaints from Wagner over the final scoreline.
He said: “One situation decided the game.
“I can accept this result because we performed good - not outstanding but good.
“This is Sheffield Wednesday, one of the top teams in this division, and we are able to be competitive against them.”
Wagner believes it is “totally unrealistic” for Huddersfield to gain promotion to the top-flight this campaign but Wednesday, on this evidence, appear capable of securing a top-six finish once again. With Forestieri leading the line, it is definitely possible.