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A lethal first half fired Derby County to a 3-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in the Sky Bet Championship.

Tom Lawrence has been in fine form in recent games, none more so than in South Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon.

It took just six minutes for the winger to find the back of the net through his deflected shot before doubling his tally with his third brace of the season to bring him to nine total goals midway through the half.

Jason Knight scored his fourth goal of his debut campaign moments later when he controlled a powerful pass from Chris Martin and drilled it in off the inside of the far post.

The midfielder was one of four changes for Phillip Cocu from the Rams’ midweek defeat to Queens Park Rangers, with Jayden Bogle, Craig Forsyth and Chris Martin coming in to replace Graeme Shinnie, Max Lowe, Curtis Davies and Jack Marriott.

The hosts pulled one back with 15 minutes to go in the game through Josh Windass.

The Rams wasted no time in setting the tone and quietening the Owls. Jayden Bogle won the foot race down the right flank in the opening minutes before whipping a cross over to Martin.

The forward looked to lay-off to Lawrence and it deflected into the path of the winger who rifled his effort from just inside the area. The low shot took a deflection off Tom Lees and burst into the back of the net from the bottom right corner.

With the Rams already firmly in control of the game, the Welshman almost doubled is tally ten minutes later. After another spell of possession and quick passing, Wayne Rooney turned and played through to Martyn Waghorn on the edge of the box. The forward fed out to Lawrence by the post, but this time Cameron Dawson was there to deny him from close range.

There was no stopping him in the 24th minute however, with his second goal of the game doubling the lead after good work by Martin.

The striker won the ball back by inside the attacking half and quickly found Lawrence with a short pass before sprinting forward. Lawrence sent the ball back to Martin on the edge of the box and as he was tackled, he knocked the ball into the path of Lawrence who weaved round his marker before another lethal strike, this time across goal and tucked into the far corner.

Thirty minutes marked the third goal for the Rams trough youngster Knight. Martin drilled a ball through to the right of the box for the midfielder to chase down. His outstretched leg met it and quickly got the ball under control to fire across goal and ricochet off the inside of the post to take the advantage to three.

Waghorn had a final change to extend the lead when he won the ball back high up raced through on goal.

Wednesday had not had a sniff of the Derby goal throughout the first half with the Rams’ defence holding strong.

Following the break, with Garry Monk making all three changes the Owls came closer to finding a way back in. In the first five minutes, Craig Forsyth who had made some important interceptions in the first half, turned an effort just wide of the mark before Andre Wisdom made a brilliant final stop to deny Connor Wickham a chance to go one-on-one with Ben Hamer.

Their best chance came on the 56-minute mark when Wickham found a way behind the Derby backline and crossed in, but Jacob Murphy wasted their chance to pull a goal back on the end of it.

Windass was able to pull a goal back for Wednesday in the 73rd minute when the home side went on the counterattack. Murphy crossed to the striker who fired in past Hamer.

The Rams saw out the comfortable victory at Hillsborough and will now briefly switch their attention to the FA Cup where they will face Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium on Thursday evening.

Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson; Palmer, Lees (C) (Iorfa, 45), Borner, Fox; Murphy, Lee, Bannan, Harris (Wickham, 39); Forestieri, Fletcher (Windass, 45)

Unused Subs: Wildsmith, Pelupessy, Nuhui, Da Cruz

Derby County: Hamer; Bogle, Wisdom, Clarke, Forsyth; Bird, Rooney; Lawrence, Knight (Davies, 58), Waghorn (Marriott, 76); Martin (Shinnie, 76)

Unused Subs: Roos, Lowe, Sibley, Whittaker

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