Saturday 13 April 2013

FA Cup: Martinez hails Wigan's finest hour

Defeat of Millwall sends Wigan into first FA Cup final to face Man City or Chelsea

Callum McManaman scores the second goal for Wigan

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez has called his team reaching the FA Cup final for the first time the biggest moment in the club’s history after they beat Millwall 2-0 at Wembley.

Goals from Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman either side of the interval were enough to seal a meeting with Manchester City or Chelsea for the club, who were elected into the Football League 35 years ago.

"The pressure was on the players but they were magnificent"
Roberto Martinez

"It does not come any bigger than this. It is a huge achievement for everyone connected to the club," said Martinez, whose team are in only the second major final in the club's history. "The pressure was on the players but they were magnificent today. They lived the dream for Wigan.

"We did magnificently to handle the pressure of being favourites because we aren't used to being in that position in this kind of match.  We showed a good know-how of how to win the game. The players deserve huge credit for that."

Wigan’s passing style was suited to the Wembley pitch and at the hub of it was Maloney, who scored the opener. Arouna Kone made a neat turn just inside the Millwall half, followed by a bustling run that attracted too many defenders. Maloney intelligently dropped into space, which the Ivorian found him in, allowing the Scot to sweep home from eight yards.

Millwall rarely threatened and in the second half a second goal for Wigan killed off the match. Jordi Gomez slid an excellent pass through for McManaman, who kept his nerve to round Forde before slipping the ball into an empty net.

Chelsea v Manchester City

Manchester City and Chelsea, the winners of the trophy in the past two years, will face each other at Wembley on Sunday to decide who will play Wigan. Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez will continue to rotate his squad three days after their UEFA Europa League match in Moscow and is confident of victory despite losing to their opponents in the Barclays Premier League.

"We know it'll be difficult, but it's a semi-final in a massive competition,” Benitez said. "We know what we did wrong against them in the league and we'll make sure we don't make the same mistakes.

"They're a good team, a strong squad. They have a manager [Roberto Mancini] with experience and they have confidence at the moment. We know we'll have to do our best if we want to progress."

"We know what we did wrong against them in the league"
Rafael Benitez

Demba Ba, who has recovered from an ankle injury, is likely to come in and defender Ryan Bertrand is also fit again after illness. Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Gary Cahill (knee), however, remain unavailable.

Mancini is looking for a second FA Cup in three seasons. "It is important for me, for the players and the club because it is another semi-final,” the City manager said. "We have a chance to go into the final, to get another trophy. For this reason it is very important."

The manager will give David Silva as long as possible to prove his fitness after he was rated highly doubtful immediately after suffering a hamstring injury against Manchester United on Monday. He has since improved and has not yet been ruled out.

"We will decide on Sunday morning,” Mancini said. “We don't know if it is possible and if there is a risk he will not play, but he is getting better."

Sergio Aguero, who came off the bench to score the winner at Old Trafford, is not yet a definite starter as the club manage his return from a knee injury.

"I don't think he is fit 100%,” Mancini said. “If he was he would have played the whole game against United. But now he is getting better and his knee is OK. It could be that he starts."

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Key Points

  • WIgan Athletic reach their first FA Cup final after beating Millwall 2-0 at Wembley
  • Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman scores the goals for Wigan
  • Chelsea face Manchester City in the other Wembley final on Sunday