Struggling Sheffield Wednesday hit Cardiff for five
Sheffield Wednesday moved to within six points of Championship safety as they hammered Cardiff City 5-0.
The Owls made a dream start when Julian Borner headed in after three minutes.
Callum Paterson fired home a wonderful second against his old club on 20 minutes and Adam Reach curled home a lovely free-kick three minutes later.
Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were ended when Jordan Rhodes swept home a fourth on 65 minutes before Reach got his second from close range.
The victory, which completed Wednesday’s first league double over Cardiff since the 1983-84 season, lifts the Owls off the foot of the table, while Cardiff remain eighth but eight points adrift of the play-offs with only 18 points left to play for.
With Wednesday winless in their last four at Hillsborough at a ground Mick McCarthy had never lost at, the Bluebirds were nonetheless outclassed from start to finish as the side who had not scored more than twice in any game this season put them to the sword.
Both bosses made a change apiece after 1-0 Good Friday defeats, with Cardiff beaten by Nottingham Forest and Wednesday defeated by Watford, with Liam Palmer recalled by the hosts and Jonny Williams earning a first Bluebirds start.
Owls assistant boss Jamie Smith again stood in for manager Darren Moore, who has tested positive for Covid-19, and he saw his side make a dream start with a goal straight out of the Cardiff playbook.
Earlier wins for play-off rivals Bournemouth, Barnsley and Reading added the pressure on Cardiff who would have been furious to concede from a corner as Borner was given too much space to nod home Barry Bannan’s outswinger.
Wednesday doubled their lead on 20 minutes when Paterson rifled home a volley after a wonderful cross from Palmer to score against his old club, with his celebrations muted.
Three minutes later and it was 3-0 when Bannan and Josh Windass worked a freekick routine that culminated in Reach finding the top corner from 20-yards out.
Cardiff were stunned and almost conceded a fourth when Jordan Rhodes went clear, but Ciaron Brown denied him with a fine tackle, while at the other end Williams saw a couple of penalty claims waved away.
The Bluebirds – who had not lost away from home in 2021 – improved markedly after the interval in their defeat to Forest and they started the second half with Aden Flint flashing a header wide from Joe Ralls’ free-kick, but they never in truth looked likely to mount a comeback.
They were attacking when Wednesday broke to score a lovely fourth as Rhodes swept home on 65 minutes, before Reach added a fifth after another lovely move on an evening when the hosts, inspired by Bannan, were superb all over the field.
Cardiff rued an inexplicable close-range miss from Curtis Nelson as they sought a consolation goal with substitute Harry Wilson curling against the post and Will Vaulks’ shot deflected just over.
However, Wednesday were not to be denied a clean sheet in a win they will take real belief from, while Cardiff’s unlikely hopes of a play-off spot appear dashed.
6HutchinsonSubstituted forPelupessyat 82′minutes
10BannanSubstituted forShawat 90+3′minutes
18WindassSubstituted forKachungaat 81′minutes
20RhodesSubstituted forGreenat 82′minutes
7BacunaSubstituted forOjoat 72′minutes
15WilliamsSubstituted forWilsonat 71′minutes
10MooreSubstituted forWattersat 72′minutes
Match ends, Sheffield Wednesday 5, Cardiff City 0.
Second Half ends, Sheffield Wednesday 5, Cardiff City 0.
Substitution, Sheffield Wednesday. Liam Shaw replaces Barry Bannan.