Brighton (1) 1-1 (3) Sheffield Wednesday: Owls ease through despite spirited home performance

Ross Wallace's goal earned Sheffield Wednesday a place in the Championship play-off final, despite a first-half attacking onslaught from Brighton

Brighton (1) 1-1 (3) Sheffield Wednesday: Owls ease through despite spirited home performance
Ross Wallace's fortunate goal earned Sheffield Wednesday a place at Wembley | Photo: Adam Holt/Reuters
Brighton and Hove Albion
1 1
Sheffield Wednesday
Brighton and Hove Albion: Stockdale; Bruno, Greer (Rosenior (min. 77), Dunk, Bong; Knockaert, Sidwell, Kayal, Skalak; Baldock (Lua-Lua, min. 60), Wilson.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace (Helan, min. 66), Lopez (Hutchinson, min. 46), Lee, Bannan; Forestieri, Hooper (Nuhiu, min. 71)
SCORE: 1-0, min. 19, Dunk. 1-1, min. 27, Wallace.
REFEREE: Roger East. Booked: Loovens (min. 9). Lees (min, 13). Hutchinson (min. 55). Kayal (min. 56). Hunt (min. 59). Knockaert (min. 63). Bruno (min. 83). Nuhiu (min. 85)
INCIDENTS: Championship play-off semi-final second leg. Stadium: The AMEX, Brighton.

Sheffield Wednesday booked their place in the Championship play-off final thanks to a 1-1 draw at Brighton

The Owls had the advantage from the first-leg of their tie, where goals from Ross Wallace and Kieran Lee earned them a 2-0 win at Hillsborough

On a night that epitomised the excitement of the play-offs, Lewis Dunk gave the hosts an early lead following an onslaught of pressure. The defender crept in behind unmarked and lashed home from close-range following an Anthony Knockaert free-kick.

However, the lead lasted just ten minutes when Wallace aimed a cross towards Gary Hooper, but the ball evaded the Owls centre forward and bounced past the helpess David Stockdale and into the corner of the goal.

Wednesday now have the chance to reach the Premier League for the first time in 16 years. They will face either Hull City or Derby County in the play-off final to contest for a place in the top-flight. 

Brighton make two changes and energetic start rewards them with opening goal

Chris Hughton made two changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Hillsborough, with the injured Connor Goldson and Tomer Hemed being replaced by Dunk and James Wilson - while Carlos Carvalhal named an unchanged line-up to his Wednesday side from the first leg. 

The Seagulls, as expected, took the game to the Owls right from kick-off as they stormed towards goal, earning an early corner courtesy of good work from Jiri Skalak. The resulting set-piece led to their first chance as the ball fell to Steve Sidwell, who blasted towards goal - only to have his shot cleared off the line by a number of different Wednesday players. 

The energetic start lifted the crowd inside The AMEX and Knockaert was urged forward just before the ten-minute mark. The winger was bundled over by Glenn Loovens and he stepped up himself to take the 20-yard free-kick, only to see his effort crash agonisingly off the post and away to safety. 

The Owls failed to learn from their mistakes and gifted Knockaert another opportunity from a dangerous position outside the box. Beram Kayal sprinted towards goal and was hauled to the floor by Tom Lees, and the resulting set-piece from the Seagulls winger was cleverly crept under the wall, but Kieran Westwood was equal to the effort with a smart save. 

All eleven Wednesday players were forced to camp within 40 yards of the own goal, and Brighton were carving them open with ease; Sam Baldock was next to run behind the Owls' back four but, once again, Westwood was equal to the effort - tipping the ball over.

From the resulting corner, the ball was cleared to Skalak, who crossed for Knockaert to head just inches wide from four yards. 

Hughton's side were not to be denied, however, and finally found a route back into the tie through Dunk. The Albion central defender - who missed the first leg through suspension - was found unmarked from another delightful Knockaert free-kick, and slammed the ball home from inside the six-yard box. 

The goal was a warning sign to Carvalhal's side and they finally entered David Stockdale's penalty area in the 25th minute, when good work from Fernando Forestieri was halted by the linesman's flag being raised for an infringement. 

Lewis Dunk capitalised on poor marking to put his side ahead on the night | Photo:  Jason Brown/JMP/Rex/Shutterstock
Lewis Dunk capitalised on poor marking to put his side ahead on the night | Photo: Jason Brown/JMP/Rex/Shutterstock

Goal against run of play gives Owls room to breathe

Having defended for the majority of the opening half an hour, the Owls managed to extend their two-goal aggregate lead when Wallace's cross evaded every single player in the Brighton penalty area and sneaked into Stockdale's bottom corner. 

Albion Goalscorer, Dunk, wanted a foul for a supposed push from Gary Hooper - and he had a strong case - but referee, Roger East, pointed towards the half-way line and signalled for a goal - much to the devastation of the home side who had seemingly won their way back into the tie. 

Wallace's goal meant Brighton had to score twice inside the remaining hour of normal time, but this failed to faze Albion as they continued to surge forward just as they had done prior to the equaliser. 

Skalak was next to try his luck for Brighton with a free-kick that was whipped just high of Westwood's goal. 

The final ten minutes of the first-half were cagey, with neither side willing to make the next mistake. A Brighton goal before the interval would have brought them back in the tie, while a Sheffield Wednesday goal would have certainly secured their place at Wembley. 

The Owls had the final chance of the game as Forestieri broke away following a Brighton corner and crossed for Hooper, whose firm header was superbly saved by Stockdale. 

Disappointing second half sees Seagulls tire as Owls soar to Wembley

Brighton started the second-half similarly to how they began the first and attacked the Sheffield Wednesday back four. Wilson came close on two occasions but could not beat Westwood. 

The introduction of Sam Hutchinson solidified Wednesday's defensive efforts as Brighton struggled to break through into the final third. This frustrated the Seagulls and this was exemplified when Kayal was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card for a rash tackle on Kieran Lee

Brighton pushed further forward in the final 20 minutes knowing that they had very little to lose going into the remainder of the game. Hughton introduced Kazenga Lua-Lua to inject further energy into the side, and the change almost paid dividends straight away when he stood a cross up to the back post, but Knockaert failed to connect. 

Dunk was pushed forward to act as a makeshift striker as Brighton searched for a way back into the tie as the game approached the final 15 minutes, but Wednesday stood firm - inspired by a superb defensive shift from Loovens. 

However, Brighton began to tire in the final ten minutes and the Yorkshire club eased their way to the final whistle. 

The result earns Sheffield Wednesday a place in the final at Wembley stadium - where they will face either Hull City or Derby County. Brighton will be disappointed with the outcome of the tie, having been favourites to go through before kick-off in the first-leg, but now face another season in the Championship.