Sunday 22 October 2017

Wigan take point on European debut

Zulte Waregem 0 Wigan Ath 0

JAMES McCLEAN made his European debut as Wigan Athletic emerged from their first-ever European match with a point after battling out a stalemate in Bruges.

McClean had twice been an unused substitute for Derry City during their Europa League run in 2009 although it was almost an inglorious night for the Irish international as he headed against his own crossbar after a cross from had on-loan Chelsea midfielder Thorgan Hazard – the younger brother of Blues star Eden.

That incident came in the 35th minute and there was another self-inflicted scare for Owen Coyle's side just before the interval, with Wigan being dispossessed and the ball coming to Hazard, who saw his shot blocked by a defender before Scott Carson did well to keep out the follow-up from Ibrahima Conte.

Zulte continued to press after the break, although James Perch's strike had goalkeeper Sammy Bossut scrambling.

A last-ditch block from Chris McCann then denied Karel D'Haene in the last few minutes.

Ultimately, the game at a sodden and sparsely-populated Jan Breydel Stadium – not the regular home of West Flanders-based Zulte – somewhat failed to live up to what was a landmark occasion in Wigan's history.

But Latics fans will surely not be too disappointed, with their team, starting with seven changes from last weekend's loss at Leicester, having at least got off the mark in Group D, which also features Russia's Rubin Kazan and Maribor of Slovenia.

Irish Independent

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