Aussies Abroad: Luongo’s Wednesday close on Premier League promotion spots

Massimo Luongo helped Sheffield Wednesday tighten up their chase for a place in the Premier League by taking three points against Bristol City.

With English Championship high flyers Leeds United losing on Saturday, Luongo and the Owls knew a win would close the gap on the top two automatic promotion spots to eight points.

And head coach Garry Monk’s men delivered the goods at Hillsborough, beating the Robins 1-0 thanks to Barry Bannan’s 85th-minute penalty.

A closely-fought contest seemed to be heading for a goalless draw until Atdhe Nuhiu was pushed to the ground by Tommy Rowe, and Bannan kept his composure to score from the penalty spot.

Caltex Socceroos midfielder Luongo played through 90 minutes, taking his bow in stoppage time when subbed off for Joey Pelupessy with the clock ticking down.

Wednesday are hitting their straps heading into the busy festival schedule, with six undefeated games under their belt ahead of three league matches in seven days.

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"You've got to stay focused and concentrated and you'll get the rewards in the end,” Monk said.

“I think if you go back a couple of months maybe we wouldn't have been able to do that.”

Hrustic sets up goal as Groningen head for winter break

Ajdin Hrustic got an assist as FC Groningen signed off for the Dutch Eredivisie’s winter break with a 2-0 win against FC Emmen.

A double from Ajax Amsterdam loanee Kaj Sierhuis at the Euroborg was enough to claim all three points for Danny Buijs’ outfit.

The 21-year-old put the home side ahead on 47 minutes, converting from Joel Asoro’s pass, before Hrustic created the second on 72 minutes.

Michaël Heylen’s late red card compounded things for the visitors, as Groningen solidified their place in the Netherlands’ top 10.

The Green-White Army sit only four points off the UEFA Europa League playoff places after 18 games, and 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

Hrustic and his side return to action on Sunday, 19 January with an away trip to face Groningen’s mid-table rival FC Twente.

Meanwhile, in Cyprus, Apostolos Giannou’s AEK Larnaca lost out by the odd goal in five against First Division leaders AC Omonia Nicosia.

Giannou’s side fell behind after four minutes to Jordi Gomez’s penalty and, after Thomas Ioannou’s equaliser, the visitors were chasing the game when Andronikos Kakaoullis and Thiago put Omonia 3-1 ahead.

Nacho Cases’ late strike was in vein at GSP Stadium as Giannou played through 83 minutes in the 3-2 defeat. 

Across in Turkey, Aziz Behich was an unused substitute in Istanbul Başakşehir’s 4-1 Süper Lig away win against Kayserispor.

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