Lightning strikes thrice for latics

Manchester City's Fabian Delph leaving his studs up as he challenges Wigan's Max Power for a loose ball. Referee Anthony Taylor deemed it worthy of a red card, leaving the Premier League leaders to play out the entire second half with 10 men.
Manchester City's Fabian Delph leaving his studs up as he challenges Wigan's Max Power for a loose ball. Referee Anthony Taylor deemed it worthy of a red card, leaving the Premier League leaders to play out the entire second half with 10 men.
Wigan's Will Grigg scoring the game's only goal after a mistake by Manchester City's Kyle Walker.
Wigan's Will Grigg scoring the game's only goal after a mistake by Manchester City's Kyle Walker.
Wigan's Dan Burn soaking up the post-match jubilation with fans who thronged the pitch after the final whistle. The League One side may face punishment after some fans got into a scuffle with City striker Sergio Aguero amid the celebrations.
Wigan's Dan Burn soaking up the post-match jubilation with fans who thronged the pitch after the final whistle. The League One side may face punishment after some fans got into a scuffle with City striker Sergio Aguero amid the celebrations.

Man City's quadruple hopes up in smoke after third FA Cup loss against third-tier Wigan

LONDON • Wigan put up the bravest of defensive displays to pull off the shock of the season against Manchester City and breathe life into the FA Cup, though their 1-0 fifth-round win was also old-fashioned in an unsavoury sense.

Scenes at the end resembled the dark days of terrace hooliganism from 40 years ago. There was an old-school pitch invasion, with City striker Sergio Aguero the most conspicuously involved in an unseemly scuffle with fans in which a couple of punches appeared to be thrown.

Then the City fans in the stand began throwing objects over the perimeter fence and by the time order was restored on the pitch they were ripping up advertising hoardings and flinging them towards stewards and police.

The managers, Pep Guardiola and Paul Cook, were also involved in a confrontation in the tunnel at half-time, disagreeing over the red card issued to City's Fabian Delph on the stroke of the interval.

"The dismissal gave us a massive lift," the Latics manager said later. "It was a huge factor and I thought the referee got it right."

Guardiola did not disagree afterwards, even though his reaction at the time suggested he was incensed at the decision. "It was a red card," the City manager said.

Neither manager wanted to speak about the ugly scenes. But it seems highly likely that Wigan will face a Football Association charge for demonstrably failing to control their fans, and City are understood to be considering a formal complaint over their players being placed in danger.

But all that is unlikely to overshadow the footballing events, however, as third-tier Wigan beat City for the third time in six years - coming after 2013 (when they were in the Premier League) and 2014 (League Championship).

The third-placed side in England's League One can now look forward to a home quarter-final against Southampton.

"A lot of things happened in our favour but we dug in, worked hard and some of the blocks we made were tremendous," Cook said. "We earned our bit of luck, and you certainly need that against City."

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the EPL leaders finished with 83 per cent possession and more shots (29 to four).

Wigan, who were beaten by Southend and Blackpool in their past two league matches, defended heroically. Chey Dunkley made 13 clearances - more than the entire City team - while fellow centre-back Dan Burn marshalled the defence in the line of City's fire.

Behind them, goalkeeper Christian Walton was a commanding presence. Lone striker Will Grigg touched the ball fewer times than anyone who played 90 minutes but one of those 19 touches saw him beat City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the 79th minute.

Kyle Walker allowed a ball played down Wigan's left to escape and Grigg outpaced the full-back before holding his nerve to dispatch a shot into the back of the net.

Guardiola said his side had done everything they could but paid the price for one mistake.

"That kind of game is like a final and always the teams can punish you," said the Spaniard, whose only other exits in domestic Cup competitions have been to Sevilla, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and Arsenal.

"OK. So accept the defeat. Congratulations to Wigan."

Guardiola knows City must now make the most of the League Cup final against Arsenal on Sunday, if they want to avoid blowing another shot at silverware this season.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Lightning strikes thrice for latics'. Print Edition | Subscribe