Wigan Athletic secured their maiden victory in a European competition when they defeated Slovenian Champions NK Maribor 3-1 in an entertaining Europa League Group D match.
Powell gave Latics the lead when he headed in following a mistake by keeper Jasmin Handanovic.
FA Cup hero Ben Watson added a second with a diving header from Jean Beausejour’s cross.
Maribor pulled one back after the interval through Morales Tavares, before Powell fired home his second goal in stoppage time.
Wigan were without several key players for the first ever European tie at the DW Stadium. Defenders Gary Caldwell, Ivan Ramis and Stephen Crainey, goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, midfielder Shaun Maloney and strikers Grant Holt and Marc-Antoine Fortune were all unavailable.
Maribor’s new coach Ante Šimundža was looking to make an instant impact having only been appointed last Sunday following the sacking of Ante Čačić.
Wigan started the game in confident manner and quickly established control of the midfield. Ben Watson, Jean Beausejour and Jordi Gomez were all prominent in the opening exchanges.
Maribor’s goalkeeper Handanovic was soon called upon to make an important save to deny on-loan Manchester United midfielder Powell from giving Latics the lead.
However, in the 22nd minute the Slovenian keeper made a hash of an attempted clearance. Beausejour crossed the ball and Handanovic came out to punch the ball clear, but instead it spun off his fist and towards the net, allowing Powell to nod in from close range.
Wigan were now well on top and they doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Beausejour was once again the provider. The Chilean midfielder’s pinpoint cross found Watson whose diving header beat Handanovic.
Wigan should have been out of sight by half-time, but some bad luck and poor finishing meant that they only went into the break with a two goal lead.
The second half continued in similar fashion with Latics on top and they should have increased their advantage when Beausejour was allowed space down the left before driving a low cross which Powell could only deflect onto the far post.
Just as the home team was not fully capitalising on their dominance Maribor struck. French forward Jean Philippe Mendy out-muscled Ryan Shotton before pulling the ball back for Tavares to score from just inside the penalty area.
Owen Coyle surprisingly withdrew the excellent Watson and brought on Chris McCann and Callum McManaman limped off and was replaced by James McClean. Maribor sensed that they might get something from the game after all.
With a minute of normal time remaining, the Slovenian side must have thought they were about equalise when Tavares launched a vicious strike which was destined for the top corner of the net but Scott Carson produced a world-class save and tipped the ball over the cross-bar.
Powell then settled the outcome in stoppage time when he avoided a couple of desperate challenges before firing a low shot past Handanovic.
It was a historic and important first Europa League victory for Wigan, who are now handily placed to qualify in second position in Group D behind leaders Rubin Kazan.