Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 Peterborough (5-5 agg, 5-3 on pens): Owls produce the greatest play-off comeback EVER as they overturn four-goal first-leg deficit before winning on penalties to book League One final date at Wembley
- Strikes from Matt Smith and Lee Gregory got the hosts off to the perfect start
- Reece James made it 3-0 before Liam Palmer score a fourth in the 98th minute
- Dan Butler missed the deciding penalty, hitting the bar from Boro’s second kick
They will talk about the ‘Miracle of Hillsborough’, the night when Sheffield Wednesday came back from the dead to reach Wembley, for decades to come.
After suffering the indignity of being thumped 4-0 at Peterborough in the first leg last Friday, the Owls had been written off as no-hopers by many before kick-off.
But the long-suffering Wednesday fans who made up the majority of the 31,385 crowd seemed to believe their team could actually do it.
The way they belted out the anthemic ‘Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday’ song before kick-off suggested there was something special in the air and so it proved.
Owls boss Darren Moore, who might have saved his job with this extraordinary result, needed extra-time and penalties to get the win that sets up a League One play-off final against Barnsley or Bolton.
Sheffield Wednesday completed the most remarkable comeback to advance to play-off final
The Owls beat Peterborough in the penalty shootout to send Hillsborough into raptures
Wednesday fans flooded the pitch after their shoot-out win to wildly celebrate the victory
Thousands of fans flood the pitch after watching one of the most incredible turnarounds
Liam Palmer scored in the 112th minute to make it 5-1 and 5-5 on aggregate in a thrilling tie
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: (3-4-2-1) Dawson 6; Iorfa 6 (Flint 90), Ihiekwe 6, James 7 (Vaulks 88); Paterson 6, Palmer 7, Bannan 7, Johnson 7 (Brown 101); Windass 7; Gregory 6 (Hunt 108), Smith 7
Subs not used: Stockdale (GK); Adeniran, Bakinson
Goals: Smith (PEN 8), Gregory (25), James (71), Palmer (90+8), Paterson (112)
Bookings: Palmer (6), Bannan (48), Ihiekwe (99), Hunt (120)
Coach: Darren Moore 7
PETERBOROUGH: (4-2-3-1) Norris 8; Ward 6 (N Thompson 46, 6), Kent 6, Burrows (Butler 46, 6); Kyprianou 6 (Jones 90), Norburn 7; Poku 7 (Knight 80), Taylor 6, Mason-Clark 7 (Tshimanga 120); Clarke-Harris 7
Subs not used: Blackmore (GK); Ben Thompson
Goals: Gregory (OG 105)
Bookings: Kyprianou (17), Butler (71), Taylor (88)
Coach: Darren Ferguson 6
Referee: David Webb 6
But in the end they were worthy victors and captain Barry Bannan said: ‘Everyone told us we couldn’t do it.
‘It’s all about believing and it was the greatest game we have played in.
‘We showed we are made of strong stuff but we are only halfway there.
‘When you come together and believe, anything is possible.
‘To turn around the mindset of the players, the gaffer has done an amazing job.’
The Owls were 3-0 up on the night but heading out when, in the closing stages of added time and roared on by a raucous crowd, defender Liam Palmer bundled home to make it 4-4 on aggregate.
An own-goal in extra-time from Owls striker Lee Gregory put Posh on course for victory only for Callum Paterson to level the tie and take it to penalties.
There the Owls prevailed 5-3, with Jack Hunt’s effort sealing it after Dan Butler’s effort had smacked the crossbar.
No team had ever overturned a four-goal first-leg deficit to win a play-off semi-final tie.
This, though, was in keeping with Wednesday’s rollercoaster season when, at one point, they appeared nailed on for automatic promotion before choking in the final weeks to slide into the play-off lottery.
When they stormed into a 2-0 lead after 25 minutes with goals from Michael Smith and Gregory, it felt as if the tie was theirs for the taking.
That belief and desire from the stands transmitted itself to Moore’s players who rediscovered the kind of energy and verve which had them looking promotion certainties a few weeks ago.
The fast start they so badly needed materialised as Wednesday forged ahead in the seventh minute.
Palmer scored in the 98th minute to wipe out Peterborough’s four-goal first leg deficit
Smith (left) sends Posh goalkeeper Will Norris (centre) the wrong way with his spot-kick
Gregory was in the right place at the right time to turn in Callum Paterson’s (not pictured) shot
The roof almost lifted off Hillsborough but Peterborough looked dangerous when half-chances came their way before the hosts grabbed their second.
Posh goalkeeper Will Norris smothered a long delivery into the box but Paterson fired the ball into the six-yard box and Gregory stretched out a leg to divert it into the net.
Cue more delirium and delight in the home stands.
Cameron Dawson then produced another fine save to deny Ephron Mason-Clark but Wednesday were good value for their 2-0 interval lead and went on to dominate the second half.
Norris made several fine saves before Reece James burst into the box and fired in a third goal in the 71st minute.
Reece James (No 33) squeezed the ball into the net to set up a nervy finish for Posh
Gregory turned into his own net in extra time to leave Wednesday needing another goal
Yet Wednesday continued to probe and they were not denied as Peterborough failed to clear another ball into the box and Palmer bundled home from close range.
He ran away to the corner and was mobbed by team-mates and fans before the drama of extra-time and penalties as Wednesday’s win saw a mass pitch invasion by the Wembley-bound hordes.
Then Owls have been out of the Premier League since 2000, but a return to the second tier is now in clear focus.
Whatever happens at Wembley on May 29, it has already been a season of such emotion for Moore, his players and Wednesday’s supporters.
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