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Wigan staring down barrel after painful defeat

ESPN staff
May 7, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Disaster for Wigan

A succession of defensive errors saw Wigan concede a goal that could prove decisive in the Premier League relegation battle this season, as they lost 3-2 against Swansea on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in the night's other game, Manchester City edged closer to securing a runner-up finish as they beat West Brom 1-0 thanks to Edin Dzeko's strike.

Premier League table & results

Wigan are clinging to their Premier League status by the thinnest of threads after two calamitous defensive errors condemned them to a 3-2 defeat against Swansea.

Twice ahead through Roger Espinoza and James McCarthy, the Latics were floored by second-half goals from Angel Rangel, Itay Shechter and Dwight Tiendalli.

Defeat leaves Wigan three points adrift of safety with two matches left.

Their next assignment is Saturday's FA Cup final against Manchester City before they face a daunting trip to Arsenal next Tuesday, by which point their fate could be all but sealed depending on the results of their relegation rivals this weekend.

If the worst does happen, Wigan will no doubt look back with regret on a missed chance by James McArthur which would have made it 3-1 and perhaps taken the fight out of a Swansea side with little left to play for.

But Wigan manager Roberto Martinez must be acutely aware that no team can beat the odds when they inflict so many wounds on themselves.

Buoyed by Saturday's win at West Brom and knowing they would fire themselves out of the relegation zone with a win, Wigan had been expected to start with zest. Instead they seemed to get stuck between an intent to attack and a nervousness about conceding.

Espinoza was pressed into service after Jean Beausejour joined Maynor Figueroa on the treatment table and his wayward early pass offered Wayne Routledge a sight of goal that Joel Robles saved.

At the other end, Arouna Kone tried his luck from distance but too often he was an isolated figure. Shaun Maloney schemed but failed to test Michel Vorm with a 20-yard free-kick which did not require the Swansea goalkeeper to move.

With Vorm also denying Kone's angled effort, the first half was meandering to a disappointing conclusion when Ben Watson lofted a high ball into the box. But when Vorm leapt with Kone, the keeper only got a weak punch on the ball and Espinoza duly capitalised with a first-time volley that whistled into the tiniest of gaps at the near post.

Swansea returned from the break with more intent than they had showed in the opening period, penning their hosts back with their intelligent approach. When Routledge's precise chip dropped over Espinoza's shoulder, Rangel belted a superb shot in off the far post to make it 1-1.

Wigan needed a quick response and were level within two minutes as McCarthy strode onto Caldwell's through ball and drove it home.

Edin Dzeko got the only goal at the Etihad Stadium © PA Photos
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McArthur would surely have wrapped up the points had he turned home Kone's cross but unmarked and just six yards out, the Scotland midfielder fluffed his lines.

How he had cause to regret that mistake as, in the face of concerted Swansea pressure, Caldwell turning from hero to villain with an abysmal pass out of defence, straight to Pablo Hernandez, who fed Shechter for the equaliser.

Vorm acrobatically turned over Caldwell's thunderous header as Wigan pressed, but the hosts pressed self-destruct moments later.

First Emmerson Boyce could have cleared but failed to, then McArthur and Maloney stood and waited for each other to scramble the ball out of their own six yard box. It was suicidal play, and Tiendalli, almost apologetically, prodded home the winner.

Elsewhere, Edin Dzeko struck against West Brom for the third time this season as FA Cup finalists Manchester City edged an open contest 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

The Bosnian, whose double at The Hawthorns in October included a last-gasp winner, guided home a volley after 35 minutes of a Premier League clash lacking in intensity but not incident.

Both sides spurned numerous chances with City hitting the woodwork twice through Carlos Tevez and James Milner in the first half and Marcus Rosenborg doing likewise for West Brom after the break.

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