Photo Credit: nytimes.com/AP
For the first time in 81 years, Wigan Athletic laced up their soccer shoes and won a major trophy.
Head coaches Roberto Martinez and Roberto Mancini, of Wigan Athletic and Manchester City, respectively, and their teams met on the green this past Saturday is what will sure be remembered as one of the biggest upsets in soccer history.
The game itself started off slow, with both teams showing a patient, calculated approach to the Final. Soon, however, the game exploded with City laying the pressure on Wigan heavy. City’s quick and strong offensive moves nearly earned the team an early goal when Toure almost scored off of a rebound from Tevez’s free-kick. Robles, however, was alert and prepared and tipped the shot away.
Wigan, however, was the offensive leader throughout most of the game. Lead by the trifecta of talent consisting of Maloney, Kone and McManaman, Wigan mounted several attacks that nearly resulted in goals.
Soon, the game turned into a cross-field match as each team played strong defense, putting the ball down the field and back again. Aguero nearly scored off of Silva’s through-ball, but came up short. Both teams were playing like well-oiled machines, though City appeared not to be performing as well as in past matches.
The match progressed into lull, but soon picked back up, offering City an opportunity to score. Silva’s pass to Tevez instead found with Robles whose effort put the ball over the goal, in spite of an opportunity provided when the keeper committed himself.
City had another opportunity when Espinoza took the ball down field, but his effort was derailed when Zabaleta challenged. The officials allowed play to continue and Wigan had a chance to score when McManaman burst past Zabaleta and Hart, but had his effort blocked in the end.
The second half opened with a much livelier City taking the field. Tevez played past Scharner to send a cross to Aguero, whose shot was blocked in spite of some impressive play.
After a brief period of slow play, City was awarded a penalty shot when Scharner took down Aguero. Soon, Wigan came alive and were on the attack, bringing the game back to life. After two near attempts in the first half, McManaman was back at it playing the ball between Kompany and Clichy for a shot, but Kompany deflected the effort.
Coach Mancini then opted to pull Tevez in favor of Rodwell, who found the end of a City free-kick, but sent the ball in the path of Robles. The cross-field action continued with both teams on the offensive, with Wigan the clear aggressor, though. Kone shot high just before being awarded a free-kick from a take-down by Nastasic.
Then McManaman found a clear shot on goal, but was taken down by Zabaleta, resulting in a second yellow card for the player. Zabaleta’s removal from the field set the stage for midfielder Ben Watson to enter the game and head in the winner in the final minute of regulation play.
City was unable to find an equalizing goal and the match ended with Wigan winning by Watson’s single goal to end a decades-long trophy drought. Wigan’s win at the FA Cup earned the team a place in the group stage of the Europa League.
By: Jenna Smith- Sports-Kings Contributor