Carlos Carvalhal said his team was left devastated after watching Wednesday suffer play-off heartache for the second successive year … this time in a semi-final penalty shootout against Huddersfield at Hillsborough.
With the teams locked at 1-1 after extra time in the second leg, Huddersfield keeper Danny Ward became the hero, saving the first Wednesday spot kick from Sam Hutchinson and then our fifth and final kick from Fernando Forestieri.
With the Owls trailing 4-3 in the shootout, Keiren Westwood had given us a lifeline when he went full-length to keep out what would have been the decisive penalty from Jack Payne, only for Ward to then deny Forestieri and see Huddersfield through to the final.
Steven Fletcher had earlier sent a packed Hillsborough into raptures just after half-time when he headed us in front in style from Barry Bannan’s equally excellent cross.
However, Huddersfield levelled matters 17 minutes from time when Tom Lees deflected a cross into his own net as he challenged for the ball with Nahki Wells … and then came extra time and the drama of penalties.
Carvalhal said afterwards: “We are devastated but we must keep our focus as a club and continue the progress we have made over the last two years.
“We were in control of the game tonight after taking the lead but we missed one position in the pressing and made a mistake we do not normally make.”
The head coach, who said he would not be able to sleep before returning to the ground in the morning, added with regard to the spot kick misses: “There is no blame, no one says a bad word to Sam or Fernando because it is Sheffield Wednesday who lose, not individuals.
“Overall I am very proud of my players for achieving the play-offs for two years because this is not an easy thing to do.
“The club is moving forward, it is a better club and I must say thank you to the fans for their support tonight and we are so disappointed we could not win the game for them.”
Carvalhal, who has been subject to speculation about his future as manager at the club, said he would be sitting down to chat with the chairman in the coming days about the way forward.