A much improved second half performance inspired Swansea City to a vital 2-1 win over Sheffield on Wednesday at Liberty Stadium.
The Swans were well below par in the initial half and were fortunate not to lag behind, with Jacob Murphy and Alessio Da Cruz losing good chances for the Owls.
But to their credit, Steve Cooper’s men were much better after the restart, with goals from Rhian Brewster and Andre Ayew – who scored his 16th in the campaign from the penalty spot – earning them what could still be a win crucial in their quest to reach the top six in the league.
Substitute Atdhe Nuhiu scored a late consolation for the Owls, although Swansea eventually defeated a team run by Garry Monk the fourth time he asked for it.
The Swans made four changes to the side that started in Millwall on Tuesday.
Wayne Routledge, Connor Roberts, Marc Guehi and Jay Fulton replaced Yan Dhanda, Ben Wilmot, Ben Cabango and George Byers by a 1-1 draw with the Lions.
The owls were without top scorer Steven Fletcher along with Fernando Forestieri and Morgan Fox – both scored in the return game at Hillsborough – after the trio had refused to sign short-term contract extensions with the club.
Only one victory would realistically do for Swansea, who started the day seven points behind Cardiff City’s sixth place.
And such is their injury crisis behind them, Cooper opted for a change of shape, with Jake Bidwell, Naughton and Guehi forming a full back three.
After an uneventful start, visitors started causing a lot of trouble on Swansea’s left flank, with Murphy burning when he was unmarked before having a shot saved by Freddie Woodman a few minutes later.
Swansea struggled desperately to create anything and the Owls’ desire to win the 50: 50 years and the second ball ensured that they got the better of the starting half.
Da Cruz twice approached for visitors 10 minutes before the break, although Bidwell and Guehi threw their bodies on the line to maintain efforts.
The Swans failed to record a single shot on goal in the first half, their best attempt was provided by a Brewster free kick, although he was unable to replicate his stunner at Millwall five days earlier.
Da Cruz should have brought the owls ahead over the interval, although he led Barry Bannan’s crossbar while Swansea broke on the counterattack without conceding.
Cooper resisted the urge to make changes to the break. But after a timid showing in the first part, Ayew tested Joe Wildsmith with a punishment.
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And against the flow of the game, Swansea took the lead as Brewster punched Roberts’ crossbar over Wildsmith to record his seventh goal for the club.
The goal seemed to give the hosts a new lease of life when they finally started showing signs of promise in the third attacker, with Guehi approaching Matt Grimes’ punishment before Conor Gallagher put Wildsmith to the test from afar.
Mike van der Hoorn has arrived for his first appearance in Swansea since January, with the Dutchman replacing Routledge for the last half hour.
And a few minutes later, Swansea doubled the lead when Roberts was packed into the box by Adam Reach, with referee Stephen Martin showing no hesitation in indicating the point.
Ayew sent Wildsmith the wrong way 12 yards out to put the swans in the pits.
Naughton’s sublime move brought Brewster into the goal late, although the Liverpool borrower only managed to find the net before the Nuhiu owl substitute lost a good opening for Sheffield on Wednesday.
The only downside was Brewster’s shoulder injury, with Liam Cullen in his place, and Nuhiu headed home for Kadeem Harris’s cross in injury to score a tense time.
But in the end, Swansea held on to a win that saw them close the gap between the top six at just four points, with Swansea remaining five games left to play to fulfill their dream of reaching a playoff spot.
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City of Swansea: Woodman; Naughton, Guehi, Bidwell; Roberts, Fulton, Grimes (C), Gallagher (Byers 69), Routledge (van der Hoorn 63); Ayew, Brewster (Cullen 86).
Unused divers: Mulder, Cabango, Dhanda, Celina, Dyer, Kalulu.
Yellow cards: Fulton 34, Routledge 58
Objectives: Brewster 52, Ayew 65
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Palmer, Iorfa, Borner; Murphy, Lee (Hunt 46), Bannan (C), Luongo (Nuhiu 69), Reach (Harris 67); Da Cruz (Rhodes 79), Wickham.
Unused substances: Dawson, Odubajo, Pelupessy, Hughes, Shaw.
Yellow cards: Reach 65
Objective: Nuhiu 90 + 4
Referee: Stephen Martin