Blackburn Rovers 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday: Aynsley Pears errors hand Owls lifeline

Two bizarre goalkeeping errors by Blackburn's Aynsley Pears helped Sheffield Wednesday to a win which moves them out of the Championship bottom three for the first time since the opening day of the season.

The Rovers stopper gifted Josh Windass the opening goal, and after Sammie Szmodics had levelled and Marvin Johnson restored the visitors' lead, Pears sliced an attempted clearance into his own net to give their beleaguered opponents breathing space.

The win, only Wednesday's second in their last eight games, came in front of more than 7,000 travelling fans at Ewood Park and edges them a point above the drop zone.

Defeat means Blackburn still need four points from their last two games to be certain of safety, even though Szmodics' goal made him joint-top scorer - with Erling Haaland - in the top four divisions this season, with 31 in all competitions.

Wednesday knew they needed a win to retain any realistic hopes of staying up after a run of just one win from their previous seven games, despite manager Danny Rohl reviving the team since he took over in October.

They got off to a great start courtesy of some slack defending from Blackburn, and principally Pears, with six minutes on the clock.

The keeper raced off his line to head clear but unwisely nodded it to defender Dominic Hyam. His bid to clear was charged down by Anthony Musaba and Windass pounced to brilliantly lob the ball into the empty net from 40 yards out.

The lead only lasted three minutes as Szmodics continued his remarkable season with another clinical finish, racing clear on to Callum Brittain's excellent first-time volleyed pass to clip a shot past Wednesday keeper James Beadle.

Windass and Liam Palmer both missed chances to restore the lead but Wednesday looked to be up against it as they lost defender Michael Ihiekwe and his replacement Bambo Diaby to injury.

The Owls scored twice inside six second-half minutes to seize the initiative as Blackburn looked sleepy in the Lancashire sunshine.

Two fierce tackles on halfway from Will Vaulks sparked a quick break and, when Musaba's low cross reached the far post, Johnson swept his shot back across Pears to restore the lead.

This time there was no Rovers response, and Pears' awful error made the points safe.

There seemed little threat as Hyam played the ball back to his keeper, but Pears' almighty swipe saw him slice the ball, which looped into the air, bounced and spun back into his goal as he desperately tried to race back and keep it out.

Szmodics hurried a good chance to pull one back, his shot flying over the bar, but Wednesday could have made the win even more emphatic as Musaba and Vaulks were both denied by Pears.

Blackburn manager John Eustace told BBC Radio Lancashire:

"In the first half we were well in the game and bounced back from an early goal and showed great character.

"In the second half the manner of the goals was disappointing. We lost the ball in the midfield and were loose, didn't chase back quick enough and they punished us.

"The third goal, we can't do much about that. It's a mistake, and a tough one to take, but we have a magnificent chance next week and everything is still in our hands. It's important we bounce back.

"Aynsley's made a mistake but it's important he focuses on what we've done as a team. We're a close-knit group and everyone knows that when someone makes a mistake it's all part of the game."

Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl told BBC Radio Sheffield:

[On being out of the bottom three]: "I think it's the first time this season. We needed 44 match days to do this. It was a good step, but not the final step, and it's important that we know this and keep going with this spirit.

"It's not about defending our position, it's about attacking the next position.

"Today we had that courage. We played the way we want to play. As a manager you can always have a plan but the players have to drive on the pitch and they are doing well.

"We connected our performance with a good result. In the last few weeks we've had some good performances but maybe not the results we wanted.

"The last few weeks, and maybe the whole season, I felt we didn't have much luck, but it resulted from our performance. The first goal we pressed them into a mistake and it was fantastic from Josh [Windass]."