Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

Wigan make history with first semi-final place

Everton 0 Wigan 3

Joel Robles of Wigan Athletic celebrates his side's win
Joel Robles of Wigan Athletic celebrates his side's win

THREE goals in three extraordinary first-half minutes saw Wigan through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in the club's history.

THREE goals in three extraordinary first-half minutes saw Wigan through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in the club's history.

But while there was joy unconfined for their fans and particularly their chairman, Dave Whelan, who shed tears in midweek as he recalled his leg break while playing for Blackburn in the 1960 Cup final, Everton were left stunned by a display and a result which puts the future of manager David Moyes firmly in the spotlight.

Whether this abject performance increases or decreases the likelihood of Moyes's departure at the end of what will be an 11th trophyless season is unclear, but this result was an absolute shocker.

The argument will be that Everton failed to show up with Wembley on the horizon, but Wigan deserve huge praise for stopping the hosts in their quest.

"I think we deserve a bit of credit," Wigan manager Roberto Martinez agreed.

"There was a lot of expectation here and the fans behind the team but we handled it well. We stopped Everton and their free-flowing football and I think we deserve credit for that.

"You get used to that at Wigan. If you lose it was your fault. If we win, the others are poor. It would be very unfair to say Everton had a bad day. I think it is more a very good performance from us."

Moyes refused to blame any individuals for his side's inept display, despite star men like Marouane Fellaini failing to perform. He was hardly alone in that.

"We work together as a team," claimed Moyes. "We don't [point the] finger [at] anybody. I might do in the dressing room but I won't do it publicly.

"We know who did not do well enough today but it was the team and me who did not do a good enough job today and Wigan deserve credit.

"We have not had many of those days this season – probably not since January last year – but today was just one of those days where it did not go well for us at all. We didn't perform."

The Premier League strugglers, who made just four changes, got off to a promising start as they seemed unperturbed by the fact they had won just once at Goodison Park.

Shaun Maloney beat Everton keeper Jan Mucha, who was deputising for the injured Tim Howard, but the upright saved the hosts before Arouna Kone headed over.

Nobody could have really expected what happened next; James McCarthy forced Mucha to palm wide on the half-hour mark and from the resulting corner, swung in by Jordi Gomez, Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa rose to nod in.

Just a minute later, a sloppy pass from veteran Phil Neville was pounced upon by boyhood Evertonian and former season ticket holder Callum McManaman who raced clear before lifting the ball expertly over Mucha and into the net.

Wigan fans were going wild as they sang about Wembley and just two minutes later they were a step closer when Kone fed a low pass to Gomez and he hit a well-placed effort into the bottom corner.

"I've got unfinished business at Wembley – I had a dream that we would beat Everton and draw Blackburn in the semi-final," said Whelan after the game. He will find out if that premonition will come through after today's semi-final draw.

The Everton fans displayed very different emotion as they booed loudly as their chances of a first trophy since 1995 slipped away.

Moyes is refusing to discuss a new contract with the club's hierarchy until he sees how the remainder of this season pans out and this display could force him to question whether this is as far as he can bring this group under their financial restraints.

-- By Chris McKenna Telegraph.co.uk

Irish Independent

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