(Reuters) - Aston Villa marked their return to the second tier of English football with a 1-0 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday when their Championship campaign got off to a stuttering start at Hillsborough on Sunday.
Villa failed to clear their lines following a sliced clearance from goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini in the 85th minute and the ball fell to Wednesday forward Fernando Forestieri who made no mistake from close range.
After 28 consecutive seasons in the top flight, former European champions Villa were relegated for the first time since 1988 after their dire showing in the Premier League last season, when they finished in 20th place with 17 points.
Wednesday’s new summer signing Steven Fletcher was replaced with a nasty head injury 27 minutes into his debut, while Ashley Westwood, Jordan Ayew and Ross McCormack all missed chances to put Villa ahead before Forestieri’s winner.
Earlier, Queens Park Rangers passed an early test of their title credentials when they beat Leeds United 3-0 at Loftus Road thanks to goals from Nedum Onuoha, Tjaronn Chery and Sebastian Polter.
Reporting by Ed Dove; Editing by Rex Gowar