WATSON IS WIGAN WONDERS’ HERO
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.”
WHAT A FINISH: Ben Watson scores Wigan’s dramatic winner
PARTY TIME: Wigan celebrate winning the FA Cup