x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

FA Cup: Wigan Athletic strike three times to send shockwaves through Everton

Exit from the FA Cup could see long-serving manager David Moyes leave Goodison Park.

Wigan Athletic's Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa, right, celebrates scoring during their FA Cup quarter-final football match with Everton.
Wigan Athletic's Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa, right, celebrates scoring during their FA Cup quarter-final football match with Everton.

Everton 0 Wigan Athletic 3

Wigan Athletic Figueroa 30’, McManaman 31’, Gomez 33’

Man of the match
Shaun Maloney (Wigan Athletic)

With enviable style and admirable class, Wigan Athletic swept into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time. And yet a landmark achievement for them occurred in typical fashion. Because it has been a small club’s misfortune that their successes tend to be seen as a subplot of others’ failures and this, for Everton, was a catastrophe that could have serious consequences.

Time will tell whether it hardens David Moyes’ resolve to remain at Goodison Park and capture the silverware that has long eluded him. The immediate reaction, however, was that this may have made Moyes’ mind up. Out of contract in the summer, he may opt out of Everton. With European football now less likely next season, he has fewer reasons to stay. Neither his underperforming players nor the dissenting supporters offered any.

But if defeat was dispiriting, the manner of it was depressing. There are few teams less likely to capitulate than Moyes’ Everton but, in the space of three-and-a-half extraordinary minutes, they did. Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez all scored to send Wigan to Wembley and cap a remarkable turnaround. Appalling defensively against Liverpool seven days earlier, they excelled, especially in attack, against Everton.

“The performance was outstanding,” said Roberto Martinez. “I think we deserve a little bit of credit. When you are at Wigan, when you lose it is because you are Wigan when you win it is because the opposition are poor.”

Yet terrific as Wigan were, Everton were awful.  “We can’t complain,” said Moyes. “We weren’t good enough on the day.” Their problems began from the start. When Shaun Maloney slalomed infield and whipped a shot beyond the statuesque Jan Mucha, it came back off the inside of the post.

It was a warning of Wigan’s ability. Everton did not heed it. “We always looked a threat going forward,” said Martinez. Everton looked fragile defensively. After four FA Cup matches to get this far, they were beaten within the space of four minutes.

The sole thing they did right that time came when Mucha pushed James McCarthy’s crisp half-volley wide. From the resulting corner, however, Everton neglected to mark Maynor Figueroa, who headed in Jordi Gomez’s delivery from the right. Then Phil Neville presented the ball to Callum McManaman and the boyhood Evertonian surged clear and finished with uncanny composure. “We gave a really poor second goal away,” added Moyes. Finally, Gomez bent a 20-yard shot beyond a motionless Mucha. Perhaps he was dazed and confused; Everton certainly were.

If anything, it got worse for them. Neville, a surprise choice, was unceremoniously removed at half-time. Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas also made early departures, both to a soundtrack of boos. In Fellaini’s case, that may have reflected his performance. When Mirallas made his way off, they were directed at Moyes. Goodison Park was emptying long before the final whistle.

“We have not had many of those days this season,” Moyes said. It is true but, as this had become one of their biggest matches of the campaign, they will have few more crucial, and dismal, defeats.

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