Wigan Athletic’s chances of avoiding demotion from English soccer’s Premier League were dented by a 3-2 home loss against Swansea, while Manchester City sealed a top-three finish by beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0.
Wigan, which faces City in the F.A. Cup final in three days, missed the chance to move out of the three-team relegation zone after Swansea twice came from behind last night at the DW Stadium to win on Dwight Tiendalli’s 76th-minute goal.
Wigan remains in 18th place on 35 points, three adrift of safety with two matches left. Reading and Queens Park Rangers are 19th and 20th and will drop to the second-tier Championship along with another team at the end of the season. Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland, the three clubs directly above Wigan, all have 38 points after 36 games.
“There are six points there to fight for and we need to make sure we can learn from this,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said in a televised interview. “We have to accept nothing went our way and we need to make sure we turn it around quickly for the final two games.”
After facing City in the F.A. Cup final, Wigan visits fourth-place Arsenal on May 14 before hosting Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season on May 19.
City’s win against West Brom last night secured one of England’s three direct berths in next season’s Champions League alongside Manchester United, which has already won the title. Wigan will play in Europe’s second-tier Europa League as the F.A. Cup winner or runner-up.
Edin Dzeko got the only goal at Etihad Stadium after 35 minutes for City, which moved seven points clear of third-place Chelsea having played a game more. West Brom stays eighth, with 48 points, two more than Swansea in ninth place.
City manager Roberto Mancini said Dzeko may start in the F.A. Cup final at Wembley Stadium following his match winner.
“Edin has a chance,” Mancini told his team’s website. “He played very well tonight and I think he is one of the best strikers in Europe who has scored some important goals for us.”
At the DW Stadium, Wigan scored in added time before the interval on Roger Espinoza’s low volley. Swansea tied it five minutes into the second half as Angel Rangel’s volley went in off a post.
Wigan restored its lead three minutes later through James McCarthy and Swansea again tied it after 59 minutes when hesitation by three Wigan defenders allowed Itay Shechter to score his first league goal of the season.
Swansea went 3-2 up 17 minutes later on Tiendalli’s first goal for the club after Shaun Maloney failed to clear a cross. It was the 67th Premier League goal allowed by Wigan this season, tying Reading for the division’s worst defensive record.
Play stopped for about seven minutes after Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm and teammate Ben Davies clashed heads, though Wigan couldn’t find another goal in nine added minutes at the end of the game.
“The team is ready to bounce back and make sure we take the opportunities over the final two games,” added Martinez. “We have got incredible character and we are determined to fight for every single point that is left.”