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Watson steers Wigan to maiden FA Cup triumph

Published: Saturday 11 May 2013, 20.58CET
Substitute Ben Watson scored in added time as Wigan Athletic FC defied the odds to overcome Manchester City FC 1-0 and win the FA Cup for the first time in their history.
by Sam Crompton
from Wembley
Watson steers Wigan to maiden FA Cup triumph
Emmerson Boyce (left) and Gary Caldwell lift the FA Cup ©Getty Images
Published: Saturday 11 May 2013, 20.58CET

Watson steers Wigan to maiden FA Cup triumph

Substitute Ben Watson scored in added time as Wigan Athletic FC defied the odds to overcome Manchester City FC 1-0 and win the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

Wigan Athletic FC left it late to defeat Manchester City FC 1-0 and become the first team since Wimbledon FC in 1988 to record a maiden FA Cup final victory.

Roberto Martínez's team poured scorn on their underdog status for long periods of this Wembley showpiece. Indeed, both sides pressed high, trading blows, and it was substitute Ben Watson who landed the knockout punch in added time, leaping majestically at the front post to head in Shaun Maloney's corner after Pablo Zabaleta had been sent off. 

City, playing some incisive football, were almost rewarded for their early supremacy when Yaya Touré's arrowed effort brushed the fingertips of sprawling goalkeeper Joel. Wigan, entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone, could be forgiven a hint of trepidation. There was not a glimmer, however, as they swiftly wrestled back the initiative with bristling confidence.

The industrious Arouna Koné engineered a shooting opportunity for Callum McManaman, who, having cut back inside, used his left foot to send the ball centimetres wide. The Lancashire outfit looked in little danger of conceding until David Silva's centre put Carlos Tévez face to face with Joel. The Wigan goalkeeper was his equal.

The Latics' passing remained pure, precise and with purpose, allowing McManaman a chance to atone for his earlier miss. This time, the Liverpool-born winger eschewed the obvious, twisting and turning inside the area before Zabaleta blocked. A frenetic first half concluded with Joel palming away Samir Nasri's venomous 25-metre drive as Wembley paused for breath. 

The Citizens emerged re-energised after the break. Tévez's effervescent running took him beyond Paul Scharner and Sergio Agüero stabbed his compatriot's cut-back agonisingly past a post. Zabaleta was next to induce palpitations among the Wigan support, sweeping a teasing centre across goal that fizzed past Agüero's outstretched boot. 

At the other end, McManaman's penchant for cutting inside almost paid rich dividends before Vincent Kompany blocked the adroit dribbler's goal-bound shot.

Maloney struck the crossbar 13 minutes from time, and the complexion of the contest changed considerably when Zabaleta collected a second yellow card after halting McManaman's surging run. Watson then etched his name into Wigan folklore with extra time looming, and a tortuous final few minutes followed before their victory was confirmed. 

Last updated: 11/05/13 21.09CET

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