Wigan Athletic pulled off one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup finals on Saturday, beating Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley.
Roberto Martinez’s side may be relegated from the Premier League but it won its first ever major trophy thanks to a last-minute winner from Ben Watson.
The goal came just six minutes after Pablo Zabaleta had become only the third player sent off in FA Cup final history.
For Wigan owner Dave Whelan, who broke his leg in the FA Cup final in 1960, it was the final step in a journey that began when he bought the club in 1995.
Back then, the club attracted crowds of only 1,500 and lay in the fourth flight.
Their rise through the divisions has been remarkable, a reminder football is not only for the mega-rich. That message was reinforced by their Cup final victory.
Wigan deserved it. The underdogs took the game to City in the first half, reducing the last season’s League champion largely to long balls.
Callum McManaman was the main threat; his direct running was a major nuisance for Gael Clichy.
Running on to a pass from Arouna Kone after 10 minutes, McManaman curled a shot just wide, and then, nine minutes before the break he ran onto a Jordi Gomez pass, got away from Matija Nastasic, took it past Joe Hart and, the angle too narrow, cut back only for Vincent Kompany to block.
City’s tempo seemed slow, but it did have a couple of chances. Yaya Toure forced Joel into a diving save to his right in the fourth minute.
The ’keeper, on loan from Atletico Madrid, came to Wigan’s rescue also on the 29th minute, making a superb save with a trailing right leg to flick a Carlos Tevez shot over the bar.
It took a superb block from Emerson Boyce to prevent Aguero turning in Tevez’s low cross early in the second half, but City remained unconvincing.
McManaman, after beating Clichy again, was denied by another Kompany block, and Shaun Maloney struck the top of the bar with a mis-hit free-kick.
The winger had been a thorn in City’s side throughout and, with six minutes remaining, he was fouled again by Zabaleta, lunging in to try to make up for a poor Gareth Barry pass.
The Argentinian had already been booked for a foul on McManaman, and could have no complaints about a second yellow card.
He followed Kevin Moran and Jose Antonio Reyes as only the third man to be sent off in an FA Cup final.
And six minutes later, the substitute Watson rose at the near post to glance in a header and win the Cup for Wigan. — DPA