Cruel six minutes put dark mark on solid performance
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
It wasn’t the ideal start to the 2012-13 season for Wigan Athletic as they fell victim to European Champions Chelsea who burst out of the blocks with two quick fire goals in six minutes.
Two swift counter attacks caught out the defence and with a Branislav Ivanovic one-on-one and Frank Lampard penalty it cost Latics dear in a game which they dominated for large periods of time.
It was a promising Latics attack that lead to the Chelsea opener as Franco di Santo lost possession on the edge of the away side’s penalty area.
Away went Chelsea and with a clever spin around defender Ivan Ramis by Eden Hazard, the Belgian had Ivanovic running parallel who was played in on goal and slotted home as Ali Al Habsi dove the wrong way.
Just when Latics looked to steady the ship, Hazard was playing trouble maker once more as he wriggled past Maynor Figueroa in the box but was sent to the floor by Ramis just inside the area.
Up stepped Lampard to stroke home, with Al Habsi unlucky not to save as the ball bounced under his body.
Latics suddenly switched and controlled the game for long periods with their first chance coming on 19 minutes as Di Santo rippled the roof of the net with a header from a deep Emmerson Boyce cross.
Almost 20 minutes later Victor Moses showed great individual skill as he beat Ashley Cole for pace down the right and lashed a tight angled shot at Petr Cech who could only fist the ball wide.
Latics were on top for most of the first half and the possession nearly paid off when Di Santo was put through on goal by a decisive Figueroa pass behind the Chelsea defence.
The former Chelsea man took a heavy touch and tried to squeeze the ball under Cech but there wasn’t enough power on it and David Luiz hacked the ball clear.
The game carried on in the same way as Latics continually pressed forwards but it was last ditch defending that saved them from dropped 3-0 behind.
Fernando Torres capitalised on a quick break and found himself one-on-one with Al Habsi, Ramis judged what would happen and as the ball trickled beyond the keeper from Torres’ shot, Ramis managed to reach the ball and clear for a throw-in.
There were late chances for new boy Arouna Kone who headed a Jordi Gomez corner wide at the front post with a solid connection which would have gone in if it had been a glance.
Then the Spaniard almost netted himself after another Kone chance at the front post.
Moses was terrorising Cole again and when he beat him down the by-line his low cross was side footed into the chest of Cech by Kone and bounced invitingly into the air.
It was begging for the spectacular and got it when Gomez rose into the air with a bicycle kick which was powerful but just off target.
Six minutes of madness cost Latics today but the performance and reaction from the players showed good signs of things to come as once again they dominated the possession.
Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Caldwell (c), Di Santo (Kone 66), Maloney (Gomez 48), Moses, McArthur (Watson 80), Boyce, Ramis, Figueroa
Unused Subs: Pollitt, Jones, Crusat, Boselli.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Lampard, Luiz, Torres, Mata (Meireles 82), Obi Mikel, Hazard (Oscar 64), Terry (c), Bertrand.
Unused Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Ferreira, Sturridge, Cahill.