Masuaku red card a low point on miserable day for Hammers
Wigan Athletic 2 West Ham United 0
It was a case of the good (Wigan Athletic), the bad (West Ham United) and the downright ugly (Arthur Masuaku) on an eventful afternoon at the DW Stadium. West Ham midfielder Masuaku faces a mandatory six-match ban after being sent off for spitting at Wigan's Nick Powell, an incident his manager, David Moyes, condemned as "despicable" and "unacceptable".
That unsavoury episode early in the second half completed a miserable day for Moyes as he watched his severely depleted side dumped out of the FA Cup by the League One leaders. Two goals from the lively Will Grigg secured an impressive win for the 2013 Cup winners, who extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches with a performance that oozed class and composure.
The same could not be said for Masuaku, who will now miss Premier League games against Crystal Palace, Brighton, Watford, Liverpool, Swansea and Burnley after a moment of lunacy. Powell and Masuaku had challenged for the ball and briefly appeared to exchange words. But as Powell started to turn away, Masuaku spat at his shirt.
Powell and Gavin Massey, standing nearby, reacted angrily and began to motion to the officials while Max Power charged over, furiously finger-pointing at Masuaku. Moyes was convinced that neither referee Chris Kavanagh nor his officials had seen the incident and were swayed by the irate reactions of Wigan's players but he had no complaints about the decision.
"What he has done is despicable and he will deserve everything he gets and he will get something he deserves from us," said Moyes, confirming an internal punishment. "It's unacceptable. The ref doesn't see it, he can't see it and it was the players' reaction [that got him sent off] but they got the right decision and I've no qualms about it. I've not seen that from him. We like him, he's a good boy and I'd have to say it is out of character but it doesn't matter."
Masuaku's suspension could not come at a worse time for Moyes in the battle against relegation. Already missing 10 senior players for this game, he will now be without Masuaku until West Ham face Manchester United on March 18. He also lost another midfielder, Pedro Obiang, to a worrying medial knee ligament injury in the first half that will be scanned today.
Not that the list of absentees excused what was a slipshod, half-baked display from the Premier League side. "We didn't play like a Premier League team and we didn't have a Premier League team on the pitch either," Moyes said.
"We had young players who didn't perform well enough and senior players who didn't help the young players."
Wigan were sharper, faster and hungrier, dominant physically and in the quality stakes. Make no mistake about it, Paul Cook's team can play. "I don't enjoy seeing people sit off and park the bus and we never did it," Cook said.
Too right. It was easy to see why Wigan are unbeaten since November 18. There is a real swagger to their football and, as West Ham went into the interval trailing to Grigg's seventh-minute goal, it was hard to believe they were the Premier League side.
Wigan had poise on the ball - Powell ran the midfield - and attacked well from both flanks, with Nathan Byrne, in particular, excelling at right-back. They defended with diligence and awareness but also had Gavin Massey overlapping with real intent at every opportunity.
West Ham, by contrast, were slow and sloppy, their struggles embodied by the hapless figure of Javier Hernandez up front. Time and again West Ham found themselves on the back foot and it was no surprise the opening goal originated from Byrne, the defender swinging over a fine cross, out of Joe Hart's reach, to Grigg at the far post to nod home.
Grigg had a song sung in his honour - 'Will Grigg's on fire' - and with six goals in five Cup games he really is on a hot streak. "The FA Cup's easy to be honest . . . nah, it's great, the lads are creating chances for me and the goals seem to be coming in the Cup rather than league," the striker said. "If we create chances I'll score goals."
Cook called Masuaku's dismissal a "massive defining moment" in the game, but Wigan had been in control up until then and, 13 minutes after the red card, claimed their second with Grigg winning and converting the penalty. Nicking the ball past Reece Burke, the West Ham defender handled, Kavanagh pointed to the spot and the Northern Ireland striker did the rest.