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Swansea progress, heartbreak for Wigan

ESPN staff
December 12, 2013 « Sharapova: I'm not sure what grunting does | Chartbeat test »
Swansea progressed despite losing in Switzerland © Getty Images
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Swansea have progressed to the last 32 of the Europa League despite losing to St Gallen, but Wigan suffered a defeat at Maribor which sees them exit the competition.

Swansea knew a draw would be enough to guarantee their progression from Group A, but Kuban Krasnodar's failure to beat Valencia in Spain ensured the 1-0 defeat did not prove costly.

In sub-zero temperatures and with a low fog hindering visibility, the visitors had the better of the opening half with Roland Lamah twice going close. But they slackened off after the break and were punished when Marco Mathys found the net from close range with 10 minutes to go.

Swansea's preparations for this fixture had been far from ideal after fog and technical issues ensured their journey to Switzerland on Wednesday took over 12 hours. Some players were also awoken by a shallow earth tremor in the early hours of the morning.

But they managed to take an early control of the match, with Lamah curling just wide and later firing narrowly off-target with a low shot. However, their hosts were much improved after the break and Roberto Rodriguez was twice denied by Gerhard Tremmel after some poor Swansea defending.

The hosts had a goal chalked off for a push on Neil Taylor but found the winner their efforts deserved when Mathys prodded in a low cross from Sebastien Wuthrich. Swansea still reached the latter stages of a European tournament for the first time in their history, and they will be in Monday's draw for the last 32 along with the likes of Benfica, Ajax, Napoli and Juventus.

Wigan are out of the Europa League following a 2-1 defeat to Maribor.

Uwe Rosler's men led thanks to Jordi Gomez's penalty four minutes before half-time. But Dejan Mezga levelled from the spot two minutes later and Zeljko Filipovic's goal just before the hour mark ended Wigan's hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

Former Manchester City striker Rosler took charge of his first Latics match having succeeded the unpopular Owen Coyle at the weekend.

Wigan's hopes of reaching the last 32 were hanging by a thread after a costly home defeat by Zulte Waregem two weeks ago that played a major part in Coyle's departure. That left Rosler's side needing to win in Slovenia and hoping Rubin Kazan, who had already secured top spot in Group D, could beat Zulte.

The Russians did their bit with a 2-0 victory but, having been reduced to 10 men in the first half, Wigan were unable to prevent a sixth consecutive defeat. Rosler's favoured passing style was in evidence from the start but Maribor were the first to offer a shot on goal, and it was a good one, Filipovic almost beating Scott Carson with a fine effort from 20 yards.

Wigan were probing but it took another eight minutes for them to really threaten, Nick Powell striking a volley from outside the box that was dipping but always too high. Callum McManaman was keen to show his trickery down the right and he whipped in a fine cross that would have provided Powell with a great chance had Soares Arghus not diverted the ball behind.

Wigan continued to increase the pressure and Gomez was extremely unlucky with a free-kick in the 36th minute. The Spaniard was fouled 25 yards out and picked himself up to curl a shot against the near post.

It was therefore no more than Wigan deserved when Powell tumbled under pressure from Arghus and referee Szymon Marciniak pointed to the spot. Gomez's penalty was central but goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic dived over the top of the ball to give the Latics the lead.

However, they were guilty of switching off as Maribor responded immediately, and paid a heavy price. Marciniak had set his stall out with early bookings for Roger Espinoza and Chris McCann so, having decided the latter handled Damjan Bohar's shot, a red card was not a complete surprise - although harsh.

Carson pushed Dejan Mezga's penalty onto a post but the ball fell nicely for the same player to equalise. Rosler made a change for the second half, sending on Ben Watson, the man who won the FA Cup for the Latics, in place of McManaman.

Not surprisingly, the Slovenians offered a lot more in attack, with Damjan Bohar drawing a diving save from Carson at the near post before Ales Mertelj shot over. Wigan were trying to hit Maribor on the break and they came close when Jean Beausejour crossed for Powell, but he could only guide his shot wide.

The pressure was growing, though, and, after Nusmir Fajic had shot wildly over the bar with only Carson to beat, the hosts took the lead. James Perch gave the ball away in a dangerous area down the right but it looked like the chance had gone as a misplaced pass rolled out of the box.

But running onto it was Filipovic, who had served notice of his threat early on, and this time his shot arrowed into the top corner. Watson almost drew Wigan level after good work from Roger Espinoza but his finely-struck effort from the edge of the box was well saved by Handanovic.

Maribor broke away and should have put the game to bed but Bohar rolled his shot past the far post with only Carson to beat. It was a shocking miss, and a minute later the Slovenians were also reduced to 10 men when Mertelj was shown a second yellow for a foul on Gomez.

Wigan kept pushing for an equaliser and both Leon Barnett and substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune came close. A draw would have denied Maribor a place in the knockout stages but it was not to be and the home side celebrated their first win over an English side - and a place in the last 32 - exuberantly.

Rosler will now turn his attention to trying to halt Wigan's slide down the Championship when neighbours Bolton visit the DW Stadium on Sunday.

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