Wigan stuns Man City to win FA Cup

May 11, 2013
By ESPN.com news services

LONDON -- Wigan won the FA Cup for the first time in its 81-year history by beating big-spending Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday in one of the biggest final upsets the tournament has seen.

Ben Watson headed in the winner past 10-man City in the 90th minute at Wembley Stadium from Shaun Maloney's corner.

"The boys were fantastic and they deserve it," Watson told the BBC. "To come on and score the winner in the FA Cup final is a dream."

The season, though, could still end on a low for Wigan, which is facing relegation from the Premier League.

The team, which is based near Manchester, was put together for less than $30 million, while City's cost more than 10 times that amount.

"It's unbelievable. It's some achievement for everyone in the club," Wigan midfielder James McCarthy said. "Now it's down to the league. It's a massive week for the club. We have to put on a massive show for the rest of the season."

Wigan was led out onto the pitch by chairman Dave Whelan, who now has happier memories of Wembley after his playing career ended here when he broke his leg playing for Blackburn in the 1960 final.

Wigan is the second history-maker this season at Wembley, with Swansea winning its first major trophy in the League Cup final in February.

"Today it was David and Goliath," Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said. "It was following a dream ... we saw the underdogs play with incredible bravery, incredible belief and they defied the odds again. That's the FA Cup."

But the result throws into doubt the future of both managers.

Martinez, already widely admired in management thanks to his team's impressive performances, will be in demand even more - especially with Everton looking to replace Manchester United-bound David Moyes.

Martinez sidestepped questions on his future, focusing instead on the feat achieved by a team heading into the Europa League next season.

AP Photo/Matt DunhamWigan celebrated its first FA Cup in the club's history by beating Manchester City on Saturday.

"Wigan Athletic is an incredible story," Martinez said. "Paul (Jewell) started everything, getting the team promoted to the Premier League. Now it's eight seasons and now we need to make sure the ninth season is round the corner, because we need to use European football in our favor.

"I mean, it doesn't matter who the manager is, there's a bigger picture than that."

For City, which had Pablo Zabaleta sent off near the end, the loss could intensify the turmoil threatening to engulf the club as it wasted the last chance to end the season with a trophy.

The FA Cup enabled City to end its 35-year trophy drought two years ago, but despite going on to win the Premier League last season, the club has appeared to go backwards this campaign.

The Premier League trophy was conceded to Manchester United with four games to go, while City exited the Champions League in the group stage for the second successive season.

And City's preparations were destabilized by a report, which the club has not denied, that Malaga's Manuel Pellegrini has been approached to replace Roberto Mancini as manager.

City fans made their feeling clear toward the club's Abu Dhabi hierarchy, chanting in support of Mancini from the start and bellowing abuse about Pellegrini.

In leaving Arouna Kone and Callum McManaman upfield even as City pressed, Martinez forced the Blues to temper their attacking instincts, denying them the width that adds to the obvious danger their flair players pose.

When the halftime whistle blew, City could claim most of the best chances. But in Joel Robles, preferred in goal to Ali Al Habsi, Wigan had a keeper in form. The Spain Under-21 star turned away an early effort from Yaya Toure and denied Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri later in the half.

In the middle was the best of the lot as Wigan's notoriously flaky defense partnered to let Nasri through, which allowed David Silva to set up Carlos Tevez. The Argentina star looked certain to score as his effort headed to one corner as Robles plunged toward the other.

Somehow though, the on-loan Atletico Madrid man kept it out with his legs, one of those moments that ends up being etched in final history if Robles were to end up on the winning side.

And Wigan had chances to get its nose in front during that opening period, too. McManaman was a constant threat, but first after running onto Kone's pass and then electing to check inside and curl home with his left foot rather than shooting first-time with his right, then embarking on a slalom and driving a shot against Zabaleta, he wasted the best of them.

He could not be blamed 18 minutes after halftime when he embarked on a bewitching run into the City box and was only denied by Vincent Kompany's brave block.

City had improved overall, with James Milner introduced to provide an extra boost to the midfield effort.

Emmerson Boyce got a vital touch to Aguero's near-post flick and Jack Rodwell had a long-range effort charged down as Mancini excuted a tactical change to counter Martinez's attacking intentions.

It was Wigan which hit the woodwork though, albeit unintentionally, as Maloney's intended far post free kick bounced off the bar with Joe Hart stranded.

And Wigan had an extra man six minutes from the end when Zabaleta chopped down McManaman to collect a second yellow card and follow Kevin Moran and Jose Antonio Reyes into the FA Cup final hall of shame.

It was the signal for another Wigan assault, and by now no one could deny the Latics deserved something from the game.

Two free kicks came and went before another McManaman burst forced Gael Clichy to concede a corner. Maloney swung it to the near post and Watson rose to power it into the corner and carve Wigan's name into history.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.