Sheffield Wednesday came through unrelenting early pressure from Brighton and Hove Albion to steal a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium and book a place in the Championship play-off final.
Leading 2-0 following a stirring performance in Friday’s first-leg at Hillsborough, Wednesday’s Wembley ambitions took an early battering as Brighton spurned a host of chances before Lewis Dunk deservedly gave them a 19th-minute lead.
But Ross Wallace, who opened the scoring in fine fashion in the first leg, curled a cross beyond David Stockdale on a rare Wednesday attack nine minutes later to keep alive their dream of playing top-flight football for the first time since 2000.
Last-ditch blocks from visiting defenders Tom Lees and Kieran Lee set the tone and there was almost lift-off for Brighton’s raucous support when Anthony Knockaert’s 10th-minute free-kick spun to safety via the inside of the post.
Knockaert, patched up from a first-leg injury, was Wednesday’s tormentor-in-chief and, after finding Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood in inspired form, Brighton led when Dunk stabbed home a set-piece from close range.
The goalscorer was furious soon afterwards when an apparent push from Gary Hooper went unpunished and prevented him from cutting out Wallace’s goalbound effort.
Hooper almost added a second for Wednesday after the excellent Westwood denied James Wilson and Jiri Skalak, who had an effort cleared off the line by Lee.
Brighton struggled to recapture their early fluency as the tie slipped away from them during a fractured second half.
Carlos Carvalhal’s Wednesday will now face Hull City or Derby County on May 28, with Hull’s 3-0 advantage in the other semi-final making them heavy favourites to reach Wembley.
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