Wigan beat Manchester City to win FA Cup; Barca clinch leagueLONDON - As blue-and-white confetti exploded under the Wembley arch, Wigan players lifted a trophy for the first time in the club’s 81-year history.
In one of the biggest FA Cup final upsets, a team playing nonleague football 35 years ago and assembled for barely $30 million beat big-spending Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday.
Winning English football’s showpiece match was not only a reward for Wigan owner Dave Whelan’s investment in the small northern club, but completed his unfinished business from the 1960 final.
After breaking a leg playing for Blackburn at the old Wembley, Whelan’s career ended at the age of 23 and he started amassing the wealth that enabled him to ultimately finance Wigan.
“The dream has come true,” Whelan said. “I’m repaid for 1960 when I broke my leg and we lost the match.”
The game was drifting into extra time - and City defender Pablo Zabaleta had just been sent off - when substitute Ben Watson planted a header from Shaun Maloney’s corner into the net in the 90th minute.
But there was no champagne for the Wigan players after the match.
Now the history-makers will try to avoid the dubious distinction of being the first FA Cup winners to be relegated in the same season.
Wigan is in the drop zone with just two rounds remaining, three points from safety.
“We’ve got two massive games now to stay in the league and if we perform like that we’ll be all right,” Watson said. “We crack on again tomorrow.”
Wigan is the second history-maker this season at Wembley, with Swansea winning its first major trophy in the League Cup final in February.
“Today it was David and Goliath,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said. “It was following a dream .?.?. we saw the underdogs play with incredible bravery, incredible belief and they defied the odds again. That’s the FA Cup.”
In Spain, Real Madrid gifted Barcelona the La Liga title when a second-string side could only draw 1-1 at Espanyol on Saturday to leave Tito Vilanova’s leaders seven points clear with their rivals having only two games left.
“First I want to congratulate Barcelona, their coaching staff, their players, directors and fans,” said Real manager Mourinho. “They have won a league title which was ours until now, and I think the least we can do is congratulate them.”