The FA Cup Semi-Finals
Wigan Athletic booked themselves a first-ever FA Cup Final appearance following a deserved 2-0 win over Millwall at Wembley.
Roberto Martinez’s side were the better side for the majority of an entertaining tie and they took the lead through a Shaun Maloney volley after 25 minutes.
They soaked up some increasing Lions pressure midway through the second half before Callum McManaman sealed the win with 12 minutes remaining.
The Latics now await the winners of Sunday’s Semi-Final between holders Chelsea and 2011 winners Manchester City.
This result could also give the north-west side a timely boost as their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League enters its final few weeks.
In a frantic opening, Andy Keogh glanced a header wide of Ali Al Habsi’s right-hand post in the first minute just moments before Mark Beevers’s sliding block prevented Jordi Gomez a clean strike at goal.
Wigan eventually began to enjoy more of the ball and McManaman forced David Forde into the game’s first decent save after quarter of an hour as the Irish ‘keeper tipped a 20-yard shot behind for a corner.
The Premier League side continued to probe and they made the most of some slack Millwall defending to take the lead on 25 minutes.
From the inside right channel, Arouna Kone picked out the unmarked Maloney who was breaking into the Lions’ box. The Scot neatly cushioned a close range volley beyond Forde to put his side in front.
Kenny Jackett’s side had failed to really trouble Al Habsi though they did put an intricate move together to advance into his 18-yard box, though a kind deflection allowed the ‘keeper to collect.
McManaman had another effort at goal but it was just too high of the target and Gomez called Forde into action once more with a sweeping left-foot shot which the Londoners’ stopper did well to turn behind.
The sprightly McManaman started the second half in positive fashion and he came a whisker away from doubling Wigan’s lead. He got to the by-line where he sold a dummy to two Millwall players but his angled shot was a fraction too high.
The Lions had a rare opportunity to test Al Habsi when they were awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal but James Henry curled the effort just over the top.
Millwall started to grow into the game and enjoyed a good spell of possession in and around the Wigan box.
First, Alan Dunne’s cross was cleared by Paul Scharner ahead of the on-rushing Keogh, before the Austrian defender rather fortuitously deflected Beevers’s header over his own bar.
But despite the Millwall pressure, McManaman sealed Wigan’s place in The Final with a well taken goal on 78 minutes, latching onto Gomez’s through ball before calmly rounding Forde to pass into an empty net in front of the Latics’ fans.
Wigan’s fairytale Cup run continues...
1 David Forde, 2 Alan Dunne, 3 Danny Shittu (C), 12 Shane Lowry, 14 James Henry, 16 Mark Beevers, 19 Chris Taylor, 20 Andy Keogh (11 Shaun Batt, 89), 21 Jack Smith (7 Rob Hulse, 67), 26 Nadjim Abdou (6 Liam Trotter, 72), 39 Sean St Ledger
Substitutes not used 33 Maik Taylor, 10 Nathan Tyson, 25 Adam Smith, 27 Karleigh Osborne
Manager Kenny Jackett
26 Ali Al Habsi, 2 Arouna Kone, 3 Antolin Alcaraz, 4 James McCarthy, 10 Shaun Maloney, 14 Jordi Gomez, 15 Callum McManaman, 17 Emmerson Boyce, 22 Jean Beausejour (16 James McArthur, 61), 31 Maynor Figueroa, 33 Paul Scharner
Substitutes not used 1 Joel Robles, 5 Gary Caldwell, 9 Franco Di Santo, 11 Angelo Henriquez, 18 Roger Espinoza, 23 Ronnie Stam
Manager Roberto Martinez
Referee Michael Oliver