Wigan Athletic pulled off another remarkable FA Cup victory to stun Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. City had been vanquished by the Latics in the FA Cup final in May but this time City were even bigger favourites to win on their home patch. Yet Wigan produced an even more inspiring performance that will give tremendous hope to underdogs everywhere.
This result, like the Cup final was no fluke. The Latics once again set about their illustrious opponents with vigour and belief and fully deserved to progress to Wembley for the third time in 12 months.
Both Wigan and City rested several of their Championship and Premier League starting line ups but it was perhaps surprising to some that it was Wigan who started with the most determination and desire. FA Cup final hero Callum McManaman was a thorn in City’s side as the Latics winger tormented the home team with his direct darts and skilful interplay.
City rarely threatened in the opening period and it was the Latics who went ahead on 27 minutes. Marc-Antoine Fortune turned the hapless Martín Demichelis in the box and the Argentinian defender brought him down to concede a penalty. Jordi Gomez sent Costell Pantilimon the wrong way from the spot to send the travelling Latics hoards into delirium.
Everyone expected a City onslaught but it did not materialise and Latics comfortably saw out the remaining minutes of the half.
The opening minute of the second period started in breath-taking fashion as Latics doubled their lead.
James McArthur drove into the City box before crossing low towards the far post, where James Perch evaded Gael Clichy to bundle the ball past Pantilimon.
Wigan were in dreamland and the prospect of another historic victory was within their grasp.
City were in meltdown and Manuel Pellegrini responded by making a triple substitution after 53 minutes that saw David Silva, Edin Dzeko and James Millner replacing Yaya Toure, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas.
Samir Nasri gave City some hope from the edge of the area after 67 minutes. Though the goal should have been disallowed as Joleon Lescott was clearly offside and blocking Scott Carson’s view.
The goal gave City a boost and Wigan had to hold on for the remaining minutes. Micah Richards fired a shot inches wide. Man of the Match Emmerson Boyce somehow managed to turn James Milner’s cross over his own bar with Edin Dzeko breathing down his neck, and Carson saved from Sergio Agüero before Dzeko had the best chance of the match but headed wide.
Uwe Rösler had prepared his men to perfection and they defended admirably to achieve what must be regarded as the greatest double giant-killing in FA Cup history.
Wigan now join an elite group of clubs who have won at the Etihad this season, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, which is not a bad achievement for a little town in Lancashire with a population of just 81,000 people.