Wigan Athletic produced an assured performance at Wembley to reach their first FA Cup final courtesy of a 2-0 semi-final victory on Saturday.
Shaun Maloney gave Wigan a deserved lead mid-way through the first half after sliding in to convert a curling cross from Arouna Kone.
And despite a spirited second-half showing from Championship side Millwall, Callum McManaman doubled their lead to seal the result after 78 minutes.
Andy Keogh got the ball rolling inside the first minute, rising above Antolin Alcaraz to direct a glancing header at Ali Al-Habsi’s goal.
McManaman was next to come close as the Wigan forward stung the palms of David Forde from range.
But there was nothing Forde could do to stop Maloney 20 minutes later as the Scotland international reacted superbly to a pinpoint cross from Kone to give his side into the lead.
The Ivorian was sensational in the build-up, picking the ball up inside the Millwall half and surging forward to pick his teammate out with supreme precision. Maloney was on the stretch inside the danger area but produced a fine finish to give Wigan the lead they deserved.
Minutes later, Scharner drew the Millwall keeper into action once again and the signs were worrying for the Championship side.
The Lions kept things tight until the break, however, despite Jordi Gomez coming close late in the half and Wigan enjoying a remarkable 72% of possession in spells.
More was needed from Kenny Jackett’s side as a squad bereft of form looked overwhelmed by the occasion and offered very little going forward.
But no immediate improvement came forth and, instead, Wigan continued to press.
McManaman threatened once more on the 50-minute mark, cutting in from the left and curling an effort just past the far post.
Millwall enjoyed their best chance on 58 minutes, though, as Chris Taylor burst forward only to be brought down just outside the Wigan danger area. James – usually a reliable set-piece taker – stepped up to the ball and curled the ensuing free kick just over the bar.
Then, Alan Dunne sent a dangerous low cross into the area and Keogh was denied by a last-ditch tackle.
But on 78 minutes, Wigan made sure – and who else but McManaman to do it. Kone started the move off once again but it was Gomes who slid an incisive pass through to the 21-year-old, who rounded the keeper to finish off in style.
Martinez’s men had completed the job – and a day of destiny now awaits them at Wembley.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!