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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wigan Athletic [Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United moved to the brink of the Barclays Premier League title with a pulsating second-half performance and two wonderful goals at Wigan.

Man of the moment Carlos Tevez came off the bench to equalise before midfield maestro Michael Carrick sealed a superb away win for the champions with five minutes remaining. This rally put Steve Bruce’s plucky Wigan side to the sword and no doubt destroyed the morale of a certain club on Merseyside, who’d no doubt been buoyed by Hugo Rodallega’s shock opener for the home team.

Sir Alex made five changes to his derby-winning side, the return of John O’Shea, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney suggesting this eleven was picked with the Reds’ next midweek fixure in mind, the Champions League final.

United were given an early fright when Antonio Valencia’s searing pace enabled him to break between Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic close to the halfway line and carry the ball menacingly into the box. Fortunately, the Reds’ senior centre-back made a sufficiently quick recovery to put the Ecuadorian off his stride, Valencia chipping his shot off target from six yards instead of beating Edwin van der Sar.

The Reds crafted two better opportunities to take the lead in quick succession around the 10th minute, with Dimitar Berbatov involved in both. First the Bulgarian laid on a peach of a right-wing cross that Rooney, so often the scourge of Wigan, unfortunately headed wide. Then Berbatov fed Cristiano Ronaldo and his low centre, again from the right, was steered agonisingly over the top left corner by Michael Carrick.

Charles N’Zogbia succeeded where Valencia had failed by forcing a fine save from Van der Sar; the Dutchman diving to his right to flick away the former Newcastle midfielder’s curling free-kick. Van der Sar’s next stop was more straightforward, gathering a low shot into his midriff after Evans misjudged a header and Wigan’s lone striker Hugo Rodallega made a Valencia-style surge forward.

The Colombian wasn’t to be denied with his next effort, however; after leaping with Vidic to contest a long pass forward, he reacted quickest as the ball dropped and lashed a close-range shot past van der Sar to give Wigan a shock lead. Vidic was incensed – he felt Rodallega had unfairly impeded him in their duel and TV replays supported this claim. Match referee Rob Styles, however, had no such view and a few minutes later he summoned van der Sar, as captain, and Vidic for a lecture on dissent.

Styles remained a central figure as Wigan’s muscular approach rattled a few men in red shirts but no serious punishment was delivered, either from the referee’s pocket or from the right boot of Ronaldo in a dead-ball situation. If Lee Cattermole upset Michael Carrick with a rash challenge, he almost embossed his villain status with an accurate shot that was well held by van der Sar, then a back-heel which helped to tee up Rodallega for an effort that only just skidded wide in first-half injury time. There was still time for United to attempt an equaliser but when Vidic’s deflected shot flew over the bar and the whistle blew, his grimace was apt for a first half of frustration.

Neither manager made a personnel change at the break, instead sending out the same players to grapple on the greasy surface, at least for the next ten minutes. One muscular tussle in this spell drew cries of ‘penalty’ from the vocal away support, only for Styles to rightly permit Paul Scharner’s perfectly executed tackle on Rooney.

The next piece of precision in Wigan’s box brought United onto level terms – courtesy of ‘impact substitute’ Carlos Tevez just minutes after replacing Anderson. The Argentine’s introduction instantly put the Latics on red alert but they were left red-faced when, with his back to the target, Carlos diverted Carrick’s shot home with a sublime flick. It was his fifth league goal of the season and undoubtedly his finest, not to mention the most important bar his Boxing Day winner at Stoke City.

The Reds had a more legitimate shout for a penalty when Ronaldo, at full tilt, tumbled after a collision with Latics’ left-back Maynor Figueroa but referee Styles rejected the appeals of the aghast Portuguese.

Sir Alex swopped his veterans as the game entered its nail-biting final phase, taking off Scholes and sending on Giggs, a decisive scorer in last season’s glorious corresponding fixture.

United’s sumptuous second-half football deserved a second goal and it fittingly came from one of many sweeping team moves. The ball flowed from Vidic to Ronaldo and on to O’Shea, and when the Irishman cut back to the edge of the area, Carrick stepped up to fire a stunning left-foot shot into the top left-hand corner.

Ecstatic Reds rushed from every position to celebrate the goal; another positive result in a few days’ time and those same players will be celebrating the ultimate triumph.


Wigan Athletic Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Wigan Athletic [1 - 2] Manchester United
28' [1 - 0] H.R. Martinez
61' [1 - 1] C.A. Tevez
86' [1 - 2] M. Carrick

1-0 H.Rodallega 28'

1-1 C.Tevez 61'

1-2 M.Carrick 86'