Wigan Athletic yesterday proved that lightening can strike twice with a determined and hard fought victory over Premier League high flyers Manchester City at the Etihad stadium.
Uwe Rosler opted once again to rotate his weary charges who have already played forty four competitive games with a change in formation with Chris McCann slotting into a back three with two wing backs with a welcome and surprising return for Scott Carson in the net.
Roared on by a raucous travelling army of passionate supporters took the game to Manchester City from the off and in an ominous portent of things to come ( for the homer side at least) Gomez found space in midfield and put Perch through on the right, the ball was passed back to the mercurial Spaniard but he failed to keep his shot down which whizzed high over the bar.
City were no slouches themselves on attack and attacked repeatedly down the left where Perch endured as torrid first half hour repeatedly turned inside out and out of position as City poured forwards looking for the open goal. However Wigan’s outstanding triumvirate of McCann, Boyce and Ramis dealt with all the half chances that City created.
The nearest City came to scoring was when Navs shot but Ramis’ outstretched leg slowed the ball down and scrambling defence by Carson ensured that the chance of an own goal was swiftly negated.
The game turned on the half hour mark when Fortune who ran himself into the ground all afternoon got goal side of DeMichelis whose clumsy tackle saw Fortune go to ground leaving Mr Taylor with no choice but to point to the spot.
Up stepped the coolest man on the pitch in Jordi Gomez whose penalty fooled Pantilimon and Wigan had a deserved lead sending the away following of around four thousand delirious.
Wigan, with Gomez outshining his more illustrious opponents in midfield continued to push forwards and the next momnet of note was a minor melee which appeared to have been sparked with an elbow to the head of Callum McManaman by Navas which sparked the reaction, Mr Taylor opted to take no action
As the game came close to half time, Wigan increased the pressure and three corners within two minutes served to show that the lead was no fluke and as the half time whistle blew the away side trooped off to resounding applause for a job half well done.
The start of the second half saw the introduction of Leon Barnett for Chris McCann who was injured in a full on tackle just before half time. If the Wigan fans thought that this would interrupt their momentum they were mistaken as within a minute they had doubled their lead.
James McArthur broke down the left and crossed into the box, Perch and Clichy both went for the ball and Perch got enough on it to put it past Pantilimon for the second goal to spark an eruption of euphoria in the Wigan end as the City fans could only stand and stare in disbelief.
Pellegrini responded with a triple substitution, replacing Toure Navas and Negredo with Milner, Silva and Dzeko. Silva very quickly took control of the game, utilizing the pace of Aguero and Milner and Carson had to move smartly to pull off a fine save. Dzeko’s height is an obvious asset for City and on two occasions he rose above the Wigan defence to head narrowly wide and then on a third occasion the Bosnian could only watch the ball bounce back off the post, too far away from Aguero who was following up
City continued to push forwards in search of a goal and when they eventually got it, it was noty without controversy, a long range shot appeared to go underneath Lescott’s feet as he jumped up and with the big defender being clearly offside the genuine claims for interference as Carson was unsighted by Lescott went unanswered and City were back in it.
There then followed the longest thirty odd minutes in Wigan’s history as City poured forwards en masse searching for an equaliser and Latics fought a superb rearguard action. This was exemplified by an incident in which Boyce pulled of a superb tackle on Dzeko as he was shaping to score, any mistiming would have been a certain penalty.
During this period Wigan had oen real chance, Fortune picking up a loose ball in midfield and breaking through but with McClean better places, Fortune fired way over the bar and City immediately upped the pressure once again
The collective groans at the five minutes of injury time deepened when in the last minute of time added on , Pantillimon joined his ten colleagues in the Wigan penalty area to contest a corner, Wigan managed to clear the ball and as they did so Mr Taylor brought to an end one of Wigan Athletic’s greatest ever performances.
As the Wigan fans celebrated with their equally ecstatic heroes thoughts turned tot he semi final date with Arsenal, another game in which they will be very much the underdogs but on yesterday’s performance anything is possible.
Team Line up and player ratings.
Carson…..7, excellent shot stopping, crap kicking.
Perch…….6, had a torrid first half, grew as the game went on and scored the winner.
Boyce……9, Man of the match, a superb performance by the ageless captain.
Ramis……8, so glad he didn’t go in January
McCann…..7, an imperious first half, withdrawn injured at half time.
Crainey……6, worked hard and celebrated in a similar manner.
McEachran…..6, some neat touches but some naive ones as well.withdrawn
McArthur…..7, another no nonsense industrious performance
Gomez…..7, superb first half, mainly of the defence after the break and as cool as an iceberg when taking that penalty
McManaman…..6, little chance to shine, withdrawn.
Fortune…..7, ran himself into The ground.
Barnett for McCann…..6,performed well under pressure..
McClean for McManaman……7, best of the subs.
Espinoza for Eachran…..6, ran around a lot
There are not enough adjectives to cover what I thought of their performance yesterday, once again they made me proud to be a Wiganer
Ref Antony Taylor
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