WAT­SON IS WI­GAN WON­DERS’ HERO

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FINAL - By Luke Mur­ray

WI­GAN pulled off one of the all-time FA Cup shocks as Ben Wat­son’s in­jury-time win­ner left big-spend­ing Manch­ester City pot­less.

The Lan­cashire min­nows made a mock­ery of pre­match pre­dic­tions that they were in for a bat­ter­ing with an as­sured counter-at­tack­ing per­for­mance that left slug­gish City chas­ing shad­ows.

And af­ter Pablo Za­baletta was sent off for a wild hack at the sen­sa­tional Cal­lum McMana­man, for­mer Crys­tal Palace star Wat­son rose to head home Shaun Maloney’s 91st-minute cor­ner, writ­ing his name into football folk­lore and etch­ing Wi­gan’s name on the cup for the first time.

“Ev­ery­one wrote us off be­fore the game, but we were fol­low­ing a dream,” said Wi­gan boss Roberto Martinez.

“You can­not de­scribe the feel­ing at the mo­ment. My play­ers faced ad­ver­sity and played with a smile. I’m so proud of them. In any fi­nal you feel the re­sult could go ei­ther way. We were play­ing an in­cred­i­ble side but we didn’t win by luck.

“We went eye-to-eye with them from start to fin­ish and it was an in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance. The FA Cup is such a spe­cial tour­na­ment, and ev­ery­one deserves to feel proud to­day.”

Though Car­los Tevez forced a sen­sa­tional save from Joel Robles in the early stages, City never re­ally got go­ing and were con­tin­u­ally caught on the break by a well-or­gan­ised Wi­gan side.

City’s £7m left-back Gael Clichy was ut­terly hum­bled by the pace and trick­ery of McMana­man, who has put the furore over his tackle on New­cas­tle’s Mas­saido Haidara be­hind him to emerge as one of English football’s fastestris­ing stars.

Hav­ing al­ready forced a last-ditch block from Vin­cent Kom­pany and lured Za­baleta into a rash chal­lenge, the 22year-old then won the cor­ner from which Wat­son clinched the cup.

“What can I say about Cal­lum?” added Martinez. “Ac­tions speak louder than words. His dis­play was out­stand­ing, like we see ev­ery day in train­ing. He’s a real di­a­mond of English football and to­day he has showed the world what he can do.”

Maloney con­curred, and hailed a “per­fect” dis­play from Wi­gan.“Cal­lum was out­stand­ing, such a big threat,” he said. “It is un­be­liev­able. We wanted a per­fect game and we nearly achieved that. It feels amaz­ing.”

Be­sides Tevez, who drilled an early ef­fort into the legs of Robles, City’s best chance fell to Yaya Toure, whose op­por­tunist 20-yeard shot was smartly turned away by the Wi­gan keeper.

But the Pre­mier League’s sec­ond-placed side never found their range, with Samir Nasri hooked af­ter an hour and David Silva rarely threat­en­ing in danger­ous ar­eas.

Talk will now turn to City boss Roberto Mancini, who was ex­pected to lose his job even if his side won, but he in­sisted he would be stick­ing around. “It’s rub­bish this spec­u­la­tion,” he said. “I will still be here next sea­son. It is com­plete rub­bish.

“I am very sorry for our fans.We didn’t play very well, I don’t know why.They scored in the last minute and for us it was very dif­fi­cult.

“We had a chance be­cause we had two or three in­cred­i­ble chances but in the end we didn’t play like we usu­ally do.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

WHAT A FIN­ISH: Ben Wat­son scores Wi­gan’s dra­matic win­ner

PARTY TIME: Wi­gan cel­e­brate win­ning the FA Cup

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.