Nine Again - Latics in November
The corresponding weekend last season saw Wigan Athletic finish the game, away at Spurs, with the number nine more than just a little significant, yesterday, with the dismissal of Antolin Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega, Latics again found nine a determining number.
Latics have never taken a single point away from United in the previous ten league meetings but there were high hopes that could be changed this season and as the game unfolded up to 35 minutes in it looked very much on the cards.
Although United started the game with all the possession and Latics were content to sit back it was Wigan who had the best of the early chances, after 5 minutes Vidic made a mess of clearing a ball which fell invitingly to Rodallega, unfortunately Hugo slipped as he was about to strike giving the United defender time to recover and charge the ball out.
The incoming Gomez managed to get his left foot to the ball but because of the height it was at the Latics midfielder struggled to keep it down and his side-footed shot sailed over the bar.
At the other end Nani skipped past Alcaraz and the Paraguay international clipped his man to stop the progress, referee Martin Atkinson produced the yellow card.
On 35 minutes N`Zogbia broke down the Latics left, knocked a ball into the United area, Rodallega rose and as he was heading the ball goalwards Vidic, with two hands, pushed Hugo in his midriff. Penalty?
No this is Manchester United at Old Trafford, Atkinson, who was stood four feet from the incident kept his whistle away from his lips, if blown, he would have had to not only award a penalty but also book Vidic, now he didn`t want to be doing that has he proved throughout the rest of the game.
Back down the Latics end and Figueroa shepherded a ball out of play under pressure from Nani, the Manchester United winger grabbed Figgy round the neck and hauled him to the floor, the Portuguese international then proceeded to challenge, bump and shove Figueroa with the assistant referee having to step in.
Free kick? Nani booking? Once again Atkinson takes no action and awards a goal kick to the Latics.
Down the other end, 45 minutes on the clock, N`Zogbia breaks, Vidic in pursuit, people stand up to get a better view, N`Zogbia charges into the box, down he goes, penalty? Free kick? Hard to tell but definite foul by Vidic, booking at least, no hang on a minute, its Manchester United at Old Trafford, so, it`s play on, give over ref, no play on it is and the ball is booted up field and you know what happens next, United score.
Second half, a missed timed Alcaraz challenge allowed the usually honest Darren Fletcher the opportunity to make something of a meal of it, even though he wasn`t touched and Latics were down to 10 men, two minutes later a frustrated Hugo Rodallega slid in two footed for the ball with as much aggression as a wet lettuce, Rodallega won the ball didn`t touch a United player but was shown a straight red and Latics were down to 9 men, game over.
For the record Hernandez made it 2-0 with a stooping header on 77 minutes.
A brave, battling performance from the Latics against an out of sorts United that had more than a helping hand from the referee, not for the sendings off but for his inconsistency in not giving decisions to the Latics, especially the two involving Vidic.
Fantastic performance from the Honduras international
Subs: Kuszczak, Giggs, O'Shea, Evans
Latics: Al Habsi; Gohouri, Alcaraz (sent off), S. Caldwell, Figueroa; Thomas, Diame; Stam (McArthur, 80), Gomez (Moses. 45+13), N'Zogbia (Di Santo, 80); Rodallega (sent off)
Subs: Pollitt, Watson, Boselli, McManaman