Report | Swansea City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Swansea City kept themselves in the Championship play-off hunt as an improved second-half showing helped them see off Sheffield Wednesday at the Liberty Stadium.
The Owls enjoyed the better of the opening period, but Steve Cooper’s side responded as Rhian Brewster fired home his seventh goal of the season seven minutes into the second period.
And Andre Ayew sealed the win from the penalty spot, converting his 16th goal of the campaign after Connor Roberts had been brought down in the box, with Atdhe Nuhiu's late header not enough for the visitors.
The result means Swansea are four points off the top six with five games remaining in the season, and Cooper will have been pleased with how his side hit their stride after the break.
There was also the positive sight of Mike van der Hoorn making his first appearance since January 2 from the bench following a knee injury, while Marc Guehi impressed in his first start since the resumption of the season.
It sets the Swans up nicely for a midweek trip to face Birmingham with everything still to play for.
Cooper had made four changes from the draw at Millwall as Roberts, Guehi, Jay Fulton and Wayne Routledge came into the side as Ben Wilmot missed out through injury, Ben Cabango was rested and George Byers and Yan Dhanda dropped out of the side.
There was also a change of system, with Kyle Naughton being joined by Jake Bidwell and Guehi in a back three as part of a 3-4-2-1 set-up.
It proved an even opening, with an intelligent Routledge run catching the visitors cold, Jake Bidwell cut out Jacob Murphy’s threatening ball across the six-yard box.
Murphy then skied a great chance in the 14th minute as Adam Reach’s deflected cross fell kindly for him at the far post, and the winger was quickly denied by Freddie Woodman a few moments later as the Swans defence found itself stretched.
The hosts had a few encouraging periods of build-up play, but were not able to carve out clear opportunities of their own during a largely tight opening half-hour.
Bidwell and Guehi made crucial blocks from Alessio Da Cruz after Murphy had caused more problems down the Wednesday right while, at the other end, Conor Gallagher was crowded out after neat interplay in the area.
Da Cruz failed to convert another chance on the stroke of half-time, heading over from Barry Bannan’s excellent delivery.
The Swans started the second half better, with Ayew seeing his free-kick fumbled by Joe Wildsmith with Liam Palmer nearly putting the loose ball into his own net.
From the resulting corner the Swans took the lead, and it was that man Brewster again.
Roberts’ hooked cross was left by Fulton and the striker finished with an emphatic right-foot half-volley.
The hosts were asking questions of the Owls, with Wildsmith getting away with another fumble as Roberts chased down a through ball, before Guehi headed wide from a Matt Grimes free-kick.
Wednesday nearly levelled a few minutes later as Da Cruz fizzed a ball across the six-yard box that was begging for a touch from a green shirt but didn’t get one.
The Swans were soon back on the front foot again, Gallagher working Wildsmith from 25 yards after neat build-up play.
The introduction of van der Hoorn from the bench saw the Swans tweak formation, with Roberts and Bidwell pushed on into advanced areas.
And the additional width paid immediate dividends as Bidwell scampered onto a Grimes pass and Roberts was fouled by Adam Reach as he tried to reach a fine cross from the left-back.
Ayew stepped up and sent Wildsmith the wrong way to double Swansea’s lead.
Wednesday sought a response, but Guehi made two excellent clearances from set-pieces, while Nuhiu dragged wastefully wide.
Brewster also fired off target after a superb ball from Naughton had sent in racing through on goal, and there were some nervy moments when Nuhiu pulled one back for the visitors in stoppage time.
But it did not matter in the final analysis as the Swans claimed three vital points.
Swansea City: Freddie Woodman; Connor Roberts, Kyle Naughton, Marc Guehi, Jake Bidwell; Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain); Andre Ayew, Conor Gallagher (George Byers 69), Wayne Routledge (Mike van der Hoorn 63); Rhian Brewster (Liam Cullen 88).
Substitutes: Erwin Mulder, Ben Cabango, Yan Dhanda, Bersant Celina, Nathan Dyer, Aldo Kalulu.
Sheffield Wednesday: Joe Wildsmith, Liam Palmer, Dominic Iorfa, Julian Borner; Jacob Murphy, Kieran Lee (Alex Hunt 46), Barry Bannan (captain), Massimo Luongo (Atdhe Nuhiu 70), Adam Reach (Kadeem Harris 67); Alessio Da Cruz (Jordan Rhodes 79), Connor Wickham.
Substitutes: Cameron Dawson, Joey Pelupessy, Moses Odubajo, Ben Hughes, Liam Shaw.
Referee: Stephen Martin