Sheffield Wednesday derby verdict and reaction: Owls 2 Leeds 0

The first goal. Pictures: Steve Ellis
The first goal. Pictures: Steve Ellis

This Yorkshire derby should be best remembered for two poacher’s goals by Gary Hooper which moved the Owls into the Championship’s top six.

They were two predatory finishes from the Norwich City loanee, taking his tally to seven goals in as many outings against Leeds United.

Gary Hooper's second

Gary Hooper's second

But there was only one talking point post-match.

With 12 minutes left, Leeds thought they had grabbed a lifeline when Liam Cooper scrambled in Alex Mowatt’s quickly-taken free-kick.

Referee Anthony Taylor, who angered both sets of fans throughout with his inconsistent officiating, initially allowed the goal before reversing his decision after consulting with the fourth official.

Taylor, a late replacement for Kevin Friend, who was ill, had failed to spot that Wednesday were in the process of making a substution with Fernando Forestieri having not yet left the field, prompting him to controversially chalk off the strike.

Joy for the Owls

Joy for the Owls

From the re-take, Daniel Pudil cleared Scott Wootton’s header off the line.

It was just a bizarre mix-up.

Taylor handled the incident poorly. Eventually he made the right call but ex-Rotherham United chief Steve Evans, now in charge of Leeds, described it as a “horrendous decision” and as “bad I’ve seen”.

Evans, who went for a toilet break after believing Leeds had scored, said: “I’ve been into see Anthony and he said by law he’s got it right because it should be disallowed.

Leeds boss Steve Evans isn't happy

Leeds boss Steve Evans isn't happy

“I’ve seen many times where the referee stops it for a substitution, someone’s taking far too long and he restarts play, but I’ve never seen somebody going back to restart play again, ever.

“He’s a Premier League referee who’s stepped down to take a big derby - he should be with the under-nines on the park pitches on Monday.

“You cannot make a mistake of that magnitude in a game which means so much to both sets of supporters.”

While Evans was left baffled by Taylor’s decision to rule out Cooper’s effort, Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal reckons he got it right in the end.

“The referee probably lost a little bit of concentration but to me it was very clear that the goal was not correct,” he said.

“The fourth referee showed a strong personality. Everybody was looking for Fernando to come off. All the players are looking towards Fernando.

“My view is very clear that he must cancel that goal because the game has stopped at that moment to do the substitution.”

Taylor’s howler should not take the gloss off another excellent result for the Owls.

Under Carvalhal’s astute leadership, the Owls have transformed their fortunes, turning Hillsborough into a place opponents fear coming to. Victory over Leeds United was their fifth consecutive home success.

Wednesday are the form side in the division, having won six out of their last seven matches, and their swashbuckling, entertaining brand of football has earned them rave reviews. Only Hull City, Burnley and Fulham have managed to find the back of the net more times than the Owls this season.

Nonetheless, it could have been a different story had Leeds taken their chances in the opening 45 minutes. Without top scorer Chris Wood, they lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

Lewis Price, making his first appearance since last August with Keiren Westwood and Joe Wildsmith out sidelined, fumbled Stuart Dallas’ initial effort in the 13th minute before producing a stunning reaction stop to keep out Souleymane Doukara’s follow-up.

That double save came shortly after Hooper should have headed home from inside the six-yard box after a great move on the right flank involving Ross Wallace and Jack Hunt.

Teenage midfielder Lewis Cook drilled a shot narrowly wide for Leeds and it took the hosts 38 minutes to force Marco Silvestri into action, Forestieri seeing his 16-yard drive comfortably saved.

After shading the first half, Leeds failed to make the most of their opportunities. They let Wednesday off the hook.

Forestieri and Barry Bannan, two of the Owls’ summer recruits, epitomise Carvalhal’s footballing philosophy. Off the ball, the duo work tirelessly - even whey they are played out of position - and press teams into submission. As soon as Wednesday regain possession, Forestieri and Bannan inevitably make things happen.

As has so often been the case since his arrival from Watford, Forestieri swung things Wednesday’s way.

The Italian, who celebrated his 26th birthday last Friday, was the architect of Hooper’s quickfire double after the restart.

For the opener, Forestieri showed good close control and determination to wriggle to the byline and pull the ball back for Hooper to prod home from a yard out.

For the second, Forestieri’s fierce attempt was spilled by Silvestri and Hooper pounced.

Last August, Leeds pulled out of the race to sign Forestieri, with chairman Massimo Cellino claiming he did not have the “right mentality” to play for the club. Forestieri took a swipe at Cellino after helping the Owls maintain their promotion challenge.

“I’m so happy because I think the team played with the right mentality, which is a good thing,” said Forestieri, who left the ground on crutches as a precaution due to a knee problem. “This game was for the fans.

“I’m happy because the team play all together. If we play like that, we can do something important for this club.”

Should Hooper not return to Hillsborough, it would dent Wednesday’s hopes of finishing in the play-off positions.

He can still do more and was guility of another poor miss on Saturday but is getting back to his best and there were plenty of ‘sign him up’ chants after the break.

But what Carvalhal’s men have shown is that they are not overly reliant on one individual to produce the goods and that the Wednesday juggernaut will take some stopping.

the teams

Owls: Price 7; Hunt 8, Sasso 7, Loovens 7, Pudil 7; Wallace 7 (Helan 83), Lee 7, Hutchinson 7, Bannan 7; Forestieri 8 (Joao 78), Hooper 7 (Semedo 87). Substitutes: Dawson, Palmer, Sougou, Nuhiu.

Leeds: Silvestri 6; Wootton 6, Bellusci 7, Cooper 6, Taylor 6; Dallas 6, Bridcutt 7, Murphy 7 (Antenucci 75), Cook 6, Carayol 5 (Mowatt 69); Doukara 7. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Adeyemi, Erwin.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

Attendance: 23,909.