Aston Villa 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2 - Report and pictures
Adam Reach scored after just 19 seconds as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a first home defeat of the season on Villa.
The winger drilled home a stunning first-time effort to set the ball rolling on a nightmare afternoon for Steve Bruce’s side, who also lost skipper John Terry to injury midway through the first-half.
Jordan Rhodes grabbed Wednesday’s second soon after thanks to neat work from former Villa man Barry Bannan.
The hosts never looked like getting back into it, despite Chris Samba grabbing a consolation with virtually the final kick of the game.
Every Championship campaign will feature bumps in the road but this will be a particularly painful one for Villa, should they now be without Terry for any serious length of time.
The 36-year-old looked in some discomfort as he left the field and much as this defeat will sting for Bruce, his chief concern will be for his influential skipper.
That should not detract from what was a particularly poor performance in front of the largest Villa Park crowd of the season.
Villa simply never recovered from Reach’s spectacular early strike, as a number of players who have shone during a run of just one defeat in 12 games leading into this had serious off-days.
Much will also be made of the reaction from Robert Snodgrass when he was substituted after just 40 minutes, as Bruce searched for a formula which might work against an impressively organised Wednesday.
The Scot, who was replaced by Callum O’Hare, launched his strapping in the direction of the dugout.
Bruce was forced into one change from the team which defeated Preston 2-0 on Wednesday night, Scott Hogan replacing Josh Onomah who missed out with a groin strain.
Teenager O’Hare was recalled to the bench, where there was also a place for Jack Grealish. It was the first time the 22-year-old had been included in a matchday squad this season following his recovery from kidney damage.
For Hogan, meanwhile, it was a first start in the Championship since August 15 and a big opportunity, one he failed to grasp.
Villa had kept seven clean sheets in their previous ten league games but here their defence was breached in next to no time as Reach fired Wednesday into a stunning early lead.
The one-time Shrewsbury loanne took advantage of what seemed a moment’s hesitation in the Villa backline to run on to a loose ball and launch an unstoppable, first-time, left-footed shot into the top corner.
Things got no better for the hosts during as a nightmare half wore on.
Terry was forced off with injury with the game just 20 minutes old and in what seemed like no time Wednesday doubled their lead.
Rhodes exchanged passes with former Villa midfielder Bannan on the edge of the box before sliding a finish into the bottom corner.
Villa created next to nothing bar a long-range Hourihane effort which Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood comfortably held and a header from Samba, who had replaced Terry, which was again straight at the keeper.
Five minutes before half-time Bruce opted to make a change, bringing on O’Hare for Snodgrass.
The latter was far from happy to be removed, angrily throwing his strapping in the direction of the dugout.
Villa pressed forward at the start of the second half, roared on by the home crowd, as they searched for a way back.
The half was 20 minutes old, however, before they managed their first shot, another Hourihane effort straight at the keeper.
Substitute Liam Palmer had a chance to put the result beyond any doubt with 15 minutes remaining when he shot wide from Reach’s cross.
Bruce introduced Grealish for his first action of the season, while Samba finished the game up front as Villa searched for a foothold.
The giant defender slotted home O’Hare’s cross, after a neat Grealish through ball, in the sixth minute of stoppage time but it was too little, too late.
1 GOAL Adam Reach fires the visitors in front with a sensational strike after just 19 seconds. The ball falls to the winger 25 yards out and he fires into the top corner.
21 Villa suffer another blow as skipper John Terry is forced off with injury. Chris Samba replaces him off the bench.
23 GOAL Things go from bad to worse for Villa as Jordan Rhodes doubles Wednesday’s lead. The striker exchanges passes with former Villa midfielder Barry Bannan before finishing into the bottom corner.
90 GOAL Chris Samba slots home with virtually the last kick of the game.
Villa (4-4-2): Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry © (Samba 21), Hutton, Snodgrass (O’Hare 40), Whelan (Grealish 77), Hourihane, Adomah, Davis, Hogan Subs not used: Taylor, Bjarnason, Jedinak, Steer (gk).
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Westwood, Hunt, Loovens, Lees, Fox, Wallace (Palmer 63), Butterfield, Bannan, Reach, Rhodes (Fletcher 73), Hooper (Jones 83) Subs not used: Van Aken, Joao, Abdi, Wildsmith (gk).