ENGLISH FA CUP

Wembley Stadium, London, England

Attendance: 62335

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0 - 2

FT

Wigan Athletic

  • Shaun Maloney 25'
  • Callum McManaman 78'
Watch Live on: ESPN(UK)

Wigan reach FA Cup final

Wigan reached the FA Cup final for the first time against the backdrop of disgraceful scenes of violence from some Millwall fans at Wembley.

Goals from Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman either side of the interval were enough to seal a meeting with either Manchester City or Chelsea for Wigan, just 35 years after they were elected into the Football League.

But Wigan's ecstacy, and in all likelihood a place in next season's Europa League, was scarred by the repeated eruptions of fighting among the Millwall supporters, which left some fans bloodied and younger ones crying at the ugliness of it all.

The scenes will not do anything for the image of a proud South London club, nor the FA.

On the pitch, there was no doubting the Latics were the more cultured outfit and, in Maloney, had the game's stand-out player.

Prior to kick-off, the main talking point about supporters were the masses of empty seats at the Wigan end that had been anticipated. Quite rightly, the club remain unapologetic. After all, as Martinez recalled earlier this week, his first FA Cup tie for the club was at Runcorn in 1995.

Some journey has taken place since then and in a town that lives in the shadow of Manchester and Merseyside, they have done well to amass the support they have.

Those who did make the journey south revelled in it, singing "1-0 to the empty seats" after Maloney had struck.

Prior to that, Millwall made a solid contribution to an enterprising opening.

James Henry dragged a shot wide from a decent position and Danny Shittu attempted an admittedly ambitious free-kick from 35 yards that screwed wide.

The problem was, they had neither the pace nor the ability to disrupt Wigan's passing style, which at times can be something of a handicap but here was perfect. And at the hub was Maloney.

His first stint in England may have ended in a quick return to Scotland from Aston Villa due to homesickness, but the midfielder seems to have found the perfect home at Wigan.

It was Maloney who got the momentous matchwinner when Latics beat Manchester United for the first time last season, and today he was at it again.

Arouna Kone created the problem, with a neat turn just inside the Millwall half, followed by a bustling run that attracted too many defenders. Maloney intelligently dropped into space, which the Ivorian found him in, allowing the Scot to sweep home from eight yards.

Either side, McManaman was denied by two excellent saves from David Forde.

At the other end, Ali Al Habsi, recalled in favour of on-loan Joel Robles, had to deal with pressure and presence rather than actual shots.

Even when Henry created room for himself inside the box and prepared to pull the trigger, Jordi Gomez was on hand to nick the ball away from him.

Another brilliant piece of play from McManaman five minutes after the restart should have sealed the game. Checking inside, the winger sent two defenders sliding out of play, but his shot curled narrowly over.

Millwall attempted to make the most of their reprieve and only a last-ditch intervention from Paul Scharner denied Andy Keogh a shooting opportunity, before the Austrian got the final touch to a Mark Beevers effort that bounced narrowly over.

But the Championship outfit were let down by members of their own support, whose scuffles among themselves left a sour taste, especially with small children in the vicinity.

It was not pleasant. And it was not long before the scoreline was looking ugly too as Gomez slid an excellent pass through for McManaman. The youngster kept his nerve to round Forde before slipping the ball into an empty net to add another significant milestone to Wigan's remarkable journey.

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