The battle for qualification from UEFA Europa League Group D will go down to the wire after Wigan Athletic FC lost 2-1 at home to SV Zulte Waregem.
Junior Malanda's superb 88th-minute goal, a first-time top-corner curler, completed a surprise victory for a Zulte Waregem side who had been on the back foot for much of the contest. The success lifts Francky Dury's charges into second in the section, two points clear of Wigan – although should the Belgian team lose against qualified FC Rubin Kazan on matchday six, fourth-placed NK Maribor could snatch second spot by beating the Latics.
Knowing a win would guarantee knockout football, Wigan went full-throttle from the outset and seized a seventh-minute lead. Leon Barnett was the scorer, meeting a heavily sliced Jordi Gómez effort with a fine instep volley and picking out the bottom-left corner.
An inspired Sammy Bossut stood between the hosts and a second goal. The keeper first brilliantly blocked a Callum McManaman shot with his legs and soon after flung himself low to his left to tip wide a James McClean strike.
On 37 minutes, against the run of play, Zulte Waregem were level. Breaking from a Wigan corner, Sven Kums fed Thorgan Hazard, bursting into the area to the right. The winger fired in a powerful near-post drive that somehow got through the gloves of keeper Lee Nicholls and bounced agonisingly over the line.
After half-time the frenetic pace and gung-ho attitude were replaced by a palpable anxiety, as both sides feared losing the valuable point. Bossut was required to show his reflexes to parry a Nick Powell effort, though the No1 could do nothing about a James McArthur attempt that dragged narrowly wide.
Bossut's heroics proved even more decisive at the death, as Idrissa Sylla collected a long ball and pulled it back for Malanda, lurking on the edge of the box, to find the angle under the post and crossbar.
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