For photos from the match, scroll to ‘Photostream’ above left, while click on the statistics tab for the match stats. Manager reaction below
Hat-trick hero Jordi Gomez spared goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi’s blushes with an injury-time winner to earn Wigan Athletic three points with a 3-2 victory over Reading at the DW Stadium.
Reading arrived fresh from their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season against Everton and took the lead in the 35th minute through Sean Morrison’s first top-flight goal. But Gomez turned things around in the second half with a brace and that looked to be that until, 10 minutes from time, Al-Habsi dropped a half-blocked shot from Hal Robson-Kanu on to the bar and the ball hit him and went in. It was a hammer blow for Roberto Martinez’s injury-hit side but Gomez had the last laugh two minutes into added time to lift Wigan five points clear of the relegation zone.
Wigan were forced into three changes, with captain Gary Caldwell, midfielder Ben Watson and striker Franco Di Santo all injured, although the latter was fit enough for a place on the bench. After defeats by West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool, Wigan needed to get back on track and they could have been in front in the 12th minute when Jean Beausejour swung in a cross on to the head of Arouna Kone but he headed wide.
Reading began to look a threat when they sent balls into Wigan’s box. Adam Le Fondre twice headed just wide, first from Nicky Shorey’s corner and then a Jobi McAnuff centre. Wigan were still in the ascendancy, though, and Kone missed another chance in the 24th minute when a combination of Adan Federici and Shorey clearing off the line denied the Ivorian.
At the other end Reading won a free-kick but Al-Habsi gratefully grasped the ball at the second attempt after it looked like Shorey’s effort had gone through him.
Shorey was the architect when the visitors did take the lead in the 35th minute. Robson-Kanu was felled by McCarthy again and Shorey’s curling free-kick was powered home by Morrison.
Di Santo came on for Shaun Maloney at half-time and the Argentinian almost scored with his first touch after he was played through by Gomez but Federici tipped the shot round the post.
It was a lively start to the second half and, after Le Fondre saw a shot well blocked by Ivan Ramis eight yards out, Gomez volleyed over the bar at the other end.
There were yet more problems for Martinez when Ramis was forced off to be replaced by Adrian Lopez but in the 58th minute they were level. Di Santo was again involved, crossing from the left, and, although Federici saved Gomez’s first effort, he could not hold it and the Spaniard tucked away the rebound.
Wigan were on a roll and Federici again spilled a shot from Ronnie Stam but this time he pounced on the loose ball just in time. Reading were playing on the break and were almost back in front in the 62nd minute when Robson-Kanu crossed and Le Fondre flicked a header towards the corner only for Al-Habsi to fling out a hand.
Wigan had not recovered a single point from losing positions all season but they thought they were ahead when Beausejour crossed for Di Santo to tap in only for an assistant referee’s flag to cut short the celebrations. They did not have to wait long, though, as in the 68th minute Beausejour sent in another cross and Gomez grabbed his second with a diving header in his first Premier League start since his red card at Sunderland in September.
Wigan looked to be on course for three points but that all changed in the 80th minute. Robson-Kanu’s shot spun high up into the air off a Wigan defender but Al-Habsi seemed in control as the ball dropped back down. However, a combination of the spin and the wet ball contributed to it slipping through the goalkeeper’s grasp, hitting the bar before going in off the Oman international.
Gomez almost grabbed his hat-trick goal moments later only to see his shot deflected just wide, but the Spaniard did have the last word in injury time when he drilled in a pull-back from Kone, much to the relief of his goalkeeper.
Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez: “Nobody deserved a hat-trick more today than Gomez. It's not just the three goals, he always shows for the ball, he had another two great opportunities.
“Internally as a team you should be there to help your team-mate when he [Ali Al Habsi] makes a bit of an error, which happens, it's a game of errors and you need to be able to overcome whatever situation comes your way. Today we showed that type of performance. In the first half we had a little bit of the feeling of something to lose.
"We weren't sharp or as effective as we can be, and to concede from a set-play and allow Ali to have a mistake, it was more our approach and our mentality, and we need to change that. But it was pleasing to see the players found a reaction and a way to overcome that. To give that win to the dressing room pleased Ali more than anyone.”
Reading manager Brian McDermott: "We deserved a point, and I thought it was the least we were going to get. When you're 2-2 in the 92nd minute and we've got the ball, you've got to make sure you see the game out. If you have to take a point in this league then take it and move on.
"We have to learn quickly from that. We've seen out the last couple of games really well but unfortunately we haven't seen this one out."
|28 Nov 2012||v Man City (H)|
|03 Dec 2012||v Newcastle (A)|
|08 Dec 2012||v QPR (H)|
|15 Dec 2012||v Norwich (A)|
|22 Dec 2012||v Arsenal (H)|
|26 Dec 2012||v Everton (A)|