Wigan upset 10-man Manchester City 1-0 to win English soccer’s F.A. Cup for the first time in the club’s 81-year history.
Ben Watson came off the bench to score the only goal in second-half stoppage time at Wembley Stadium in London to give the Latics, an 8-1 underdog with bookmakers, one of the biggest upsets in the history of soccer’s oldest domestic cup competition.
“It’s incredible, we always think about the F.A. Cup and chasing that dream,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said in an interview with ESPN. “To win the F.A. Cup is a momentous moment.”
Manchester City finished with 10 men after defender Pablo Zabaleta received his second yellow card in the 84th minute. City was the overwhelming 4-11 favorite to lift the Cup for the second time in three seasons, meaning a successful $11 dollar bet returned $4 plus the original stake.
“There’s no need to look for excuses,” City captain Vincent Kompany told ITV. “Wigan deserved to win it today, congratulations to them.”
The game pitted Manchester City, one of soccer’s richest clubs, against a Wigan team struggling to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
City is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayad Al Nahayan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, who’s spent about $1 billion since buying the team in 2008. City won its first league title since 1968 last season and captured the F.A. Cup in 2011.
Wigan played outside the top four levels of English soccer until 1978 and didn’t make its first appearance in the Premier League until 2005. The northwest England club is currently among the three teams at the bottom of the Premier League which will be relegated to the second-tier Championship after the season.
“You never think this will happen,” Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, who suffered a broken leg while playing for Blackburn in the 1960 F.A. Cup final, told ESPN. “Today we are taking the F.A. Cup back to Wigan.”
Wigan’s previous best F.A. Cup finish was reaching the quarterfinals in 1987. All six of the Latics’ wins in this year’s competition came away from home.
“We never lacked confidence,” Martinez said. “These players haven’t got any other way of playing football. I’m so proud of them.”
Manchester City’s Yaya Toure forced Joel Robles into an early diving stop and Wigan’s Callum McManaman curled a shot wide of the far post. Robles then stretched out to save Carlos Tevez’s shot with his foot in the 29th minute.
Referee Andre Marriner turned down a penalty appeal from Wigan five minutes later after Roger Espinoza went down from Zabaleta’s challenge. City goalkeeper Joe Hart saved a long, looping shot from Arouna Kone and Robles gathered an attempt from Gareth Barry before Robles then punched out Samir Nasri’s shot just before halftime.
Nasri shot over the goal in the 49th minute and was replaced by James Milner six minutes later as Mancini looked to spark his sluggish attack. Mancini later replaced Tevez with Jack Rodwell, who headed a shot straight to Robles moments after coming on.
After Wigan’s Shaun Maloney curled a free kick from an angle off the top of the crossbar, Martinez brought on Watson for Gomez with nine minutes left.
Zabaleta was sent off for taking down McManaman with six minutes left, becoming the third player ejected from an F.A. Cup final. Watson, who returned to action last month from a broken leg, then struck in the first of three added minutes when he headed in Maloney’s corner kick. It was the Latic’s first shot on target in the match.
“It’s been a long six months for myself and it’s been a dream, coming on in an F.A. Cup final and scoring the winner,” Watson said. “From the chairman, the manager, the staff, the players, we’ve worked hard.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.