Wigan are out of luck and out of Europe – NK Maribor 2 Wigan Athletic 1

NK Maribor Stadium

Panorama picture of the Ljudski vrt stadium in Maribor

Despite a much improved performance with Uwe Rösler in charge, Wigan crashed out of the Europa League 2-1 to NK Maribor who have qualified for the last 32 of the competition.

In a match marred by poor officiating Latics had taken the lead though a Jordi Gomez penalty after Nick Powell had been fouled in the area.

Maribor were soon awarded a penalty at the other end for an unfortunate handball by Chris McCann and the midfielder was harshly sent off for his second yellow card.

Dejan Mezga’s penalty was tipped against the post by Scott Carson but the midfielder followed up to score from the rebound.

Up until that point Latics had been the better team but the decision turned the match in the Slovenians favour.

In the second half Zalijko Filipovic spectacularly scored from 30 yards to give the home team the lead, but they went down to ten men on 73 minutes when Ales Mertelj was given a second yellow.

As news came though that Zulte Waregem were losing to Rubin Kazan and the winners of the game would qualify for the next round, Latics pushed for the equaliser but they found the Maribor keeper Jasmin Handanovic in top form.

The Slovenian’s hung onto their lead and despite having been bottom of Group D going into the fixture, they qualified in second place behind Rubin Kazan.

New manager Uwe Rosler made six changes to the team defeated at the weekend by Millwall bringing in Roger Espinoza, Jean Beausejour, Jordi Gomez, Callum McManaman, Thomas Rogne and James Perch.

In an unfamiliar green kit Latics started confidently, pushing back the home team and having the majority of possession.

Powell nearly got on the score sheet with a dipping half-volley from 25-yards just over the angle of post and crossbar, and soon after Gomez curled a free-kick over the defensive wall and against the post.

Cheered on by over 1,000 travelling fans the Latics were the dominant outfit in the first period and it looked only a matter of time before they would take the lead.

The goal came on 37 minutes from the penalty spot, when Gomez converted after Nick Powell was brought down in the box by Maribor defender Arghus.

Jordi Gomez

Jordi Gomez converted the penalty

But almost immediately Maribor were given an opportunity to draw level when McCann was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box when attempting to block a shot and the midfielder was harshly shown a second yellow card.

Mezga’s penalty was pushed onto the post by Wigan keeper Carson, but the Croatian midfielder pounced to tap in the loose ball.

The Latics went into the half time break stunned that they were not ahead and now reduced to ten men.

Ben Watson replaced McManaman at the interval but despite being a man down Wigan started the second period positively and showed a big improvement on recent performances. Powell went close with a near post effort from a fine Beausejour cross.

But just when it looked like Wigan were in the ascendancy Maribor grabbed the lead when Filipovic produced a wonder strike from 30 yards which flew into the top corner of Carson’s goal.

Wigan responded well with Watson testing Handanovic from 20 yards after good work by Espinoza. But Maribor had chances and could have increased their lead when Damjan Bohar had a one-on-one with Carson, inexplicably missing the target when it looked easier to score.

Referee Szymon Marciniak was having a poor game and he decided to level up the number of players on each team on 74 minutes when Maribor’s Mertelj was shown a second yellow for a foul on Gomez.

Wigan continued to press and substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune looked to have equalised in the 89th minute but Handanovic produced another top class save to deny him.

Even in injury time Latics might have drawn level but substitute Emmerson Boyce’s goal bound effort was blocked by a Maribor defender.

On the night Wigan’s performance was much improved and on another occasion they would have secured the three points to qualify. But a combination of bad luck and poor officiating had contributed to the defeat. McCann’s sending off was probably the turning point in the game.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Dejan Mezga, Europa League, Jordi Gomez, NK Maribor, Wigan Athletic, Zalijko Filipovic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Wigan are out of luck and out of Europe – NK Maribor 2 Wigan Athletic 1

  1. Pingback: Wigan are out of luck and out of Europe – NK Maribor 2 Wigan Athletic 1 - Unofficial Network

  2. Have to agree on the red card, it certainly changed the course of the game. That ref was like a traffic cop, making instantaneous decisions to book people without more than a moment’s thought! If he had stopped to consider McCann had already been carded, I suspect he might have got away with it. Seems like he’s been playing too many video games as it was, to coin a phrase, a ‘proper FIFA sending off’. 😛

  3. ianhaspinall says:

    Hi Dan,
    Yes the Ref was a poor one and we just didn’t have any luck on the night. Looking back though I think we probably messed up qualification when we were 1-0 up at home to Zulte Waregem and lost 2-1. Anyway onwards and hopefully upwards – some positive signs from the team last night.

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