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Old 14th May 2009, 09:33   #1
Paul Brooks

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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Default Premier League: Wigan Athletic v Manchester United - as it happened

Premier League: Wigan Athletic v Manchester United - as it happened

* Guardian report
* Min-by-min
* Match facts

Premier League
Wigan Athletic 1

* Rodallega 28

Manchester United 2

* Tevez 61,
* Carrick 86

* Paul Doyle
*, Wednesday 13 May 2009 14.50 BST
* Article history

Wigan: Kingson, Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole, Scharner, Brown, N'Zogbia, Rodallega.
Subs: Pollitt, Edman, Watson, Koumas, De Ridder, Mido, Kapo.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Anderson, Ronaldo, Berbatov, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Giggs, Park, Nani, Rafael Da Silva, Tevez.

Referee: Rob Styles (who, fact fans, has awarded seven red and 24 yellow cards in 24 games this season. That, according to Manchester United's mathematically-challenged website, equates to an average of 3.46 cards a game. Coincidentally, I bet Graham Poll has actually shown 3.46 cards to someone in a game)

Reasons for Manchester United fans to be supremely confident tonight:
1) Wigan owner Dave Whelan has announced it would be "a shame" if his side dented United's title ambitions.
2) Steve Bruce is chummy with Sir Alex Ferguson
3) Wigan's form is so poor that Bob Geldof is considering organising a concert for it
4) After 30 or so fine games, Titus Bramble reverted to his previous self and was given the run-around by West Brom on Saturday
5) Goalkeeper Richard Kingson looks shorter than Roy Keane's temper

Reasons for Liverpool to be a teensy bit hopeful:
1) Antonio Valencia is rumoured to be a target for United so he might fancy turning on the style tonight to seal a move to Old Trafford
2) Few people in the league are more capable of putting in reducers than Michael Brown and Lee Cattermole
3) If Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to help along a move to Real Madrid, getting sent off tonight for slapping Wayne Rooney would do the trick
4) Ancient Mayan prognostications suggest the end of the world will come in 2012, so United's domination may not last forever.

7:45pm: Hats off to Michael Meagher for drawing attention to this peerless website, which highlights the shoddy work of its Manchester United counterpart. Referee Rob Styles has, in fact, shown 75 yellows and five red cards from his 24 matches this season.

An easy riddle to get things rolling: A man is driving a black truck. The moon is not out and the truck's lights are broken. A woman in dark clothes runs out into the middle of the road. The man quickly stops his truck. How did he see her? After you've got the obvious answer, feel free to submit a tougher one. Or anything else worth publishing. Please.

7:51pm: "If The Berb doesn't chuck in a shift tonight, I wouldn't blame Tevez for bogging off to Madrid, or even City," blurts Paul Neilan. "Considering Ronaldo is off anyway, it'll be vital to keep him for next year - they need to stop taking the mick with this brinkmanship tactic. Just give Joorabchian £20M and tell him he can 'own' Vidic's chin and Gary Neville's Bond-villian rights. Non?"

7:53pm: Yes, well, as expected, dozens of you got the answer to the last riddle immediately. Yes, the guy was driving in the middle of the day (but bonus points to John Delaney for suggesting the woman was on fire). Several of you have offered other riddles, but unless you provide me with the answer I can't decide whether it's worth tormenting the readers with 'em. I wouldn't like them to be disappointed by a ridiculous answer, see. So please submit riddles AND answers.

While I'm waiting for decent submission from you lot, here's a riddle with no solution: How the hell can Wigan beat United tonight?

7:59pm: Sky have cut to commercials, so get a load of this, courtesy of Michael O'Connor: "A kid is rushed into intensive care, the doctor starts to get kitted up, but suddenly stops and says: "I can't treat this patient: he's my son". But the nurses know that the doctor is not the boy's father. What's going on?"

1 min: We have kick-off. "Here's how Wigan can beat United" divulges Ciaran McGhee. "Valencia gets one of those screamers he so often tries to actually go in instead of banging off the woodwork. And, of course, every United player decided to bugger off home."

It's Week 8 of The Apprentice, and it's beaches and bingo all the way as the remaining contestants attempt to rebrand the town of Margate. Join Heidi Stephens for the liveblog.

4 mins: Spirited stuff from Wigan, who are knocking the ball around nicely and forcing United backwards. Vidic stood up well to a Nzogbia shot just now, and United clear. Meanwhile, this from Phil Wainwright: "which five-letter word looks exactly the same upside down?"

7 mins: Van der Sar dawdles with the ball in his box, in a bid to settle his side down. Here's another: "A man falls off a 50ft ladder but when hits the ground he is completely unharmed. How come?" demands Richard Tong.

9 mins: Cattermole attempts to pick out Rodallega's run, but fails abysmally. United stride out of defence. I note that none of you have got the answer to mr Wainwright's riddle.

10 mins: Another ridiculous miss! This time by Rooney. Ronaldo and Berbatov worked some space down the right before the Bulgarian sent a perfect cross to Rooney, who was by himself seven yards out ... and somehow nodded wide!

12 mins: Excellent move by United. Rooney to Scholes to Berbatov. The Bulgarian provides another ideal cross, and this time a different Englishman - Carrick - prods it wide from close range. At least he was under pressure from a defender, unlike Rooney a moment ago. Also: Russell Fraser is the first to figure out that the bloke who fell off the 50ft ladder and escaped unscathed had been ... standing on the first rung.

15 mins: Van der Sar tips a Rodallega freekick out for a corner. Rooney heads it clear at the post. And still no one has risen to Phil Wainwright's challenge. Ali Khaled has had a stab at onion, which, to be frank, has me in tears.

16 mins: Berbatov, you will have noted, has been involved in everything United have done well so far. Intriguingly, he has been playing almost as a right midfielder. Meanwhile, all hail Alan Kirkup, who has finally (perhaps after frantic Googling) come up with the answer to Wainwright's pickle: SWIMS.

17 mins: Rodallega collects the ball on the left flank, hurtles forward, cuts inside Evra and wallops a fine effort into Van der Sar's arms from 25 yards. Decent game this.

20 mins: Carrick leads a United raid. Rooney is darting into the box, baying for the ball. But Carrick elects to shoot himself, and, upon seeing the ball trickle miles wide, surely regrests whis choice. And now, it's high time for another riddle, so take this from Shaun Thompson. "Man goes into a bar and asks for a glass of water. The barman takes out a gun and points it at the man. The man thanks the barman and leave the bar happy. Why?"

22 mins: Exuberant cheers from the Wigan faithful after Ronaldo tries to get up a sprint ... but slips over in comical fashion.

23 mins: Oh dear. Boyce trips Evra just outside the box, giving United a freekick and, perhaps, Ronaldo an opportunity to shut the locals up ... but the Portugeezer merely batters his shot into the wall.

25 mins: N'Zogbia tees up Figueroa, who charges in from the left and sends a ferocious left-footer just over the bar from 20 yards. Elsewhere, Ryan Jackson knows why the man left the bar happy. "He had wanted the water to cure his hiccups, but the shock of having a gun pulled on him did the job instead." A quick-thinking bunch of readers tonight, to be sure. Or shameless cheats.

27 mins: NO MORE RIDDLES, due to the controversey caused by the SWIMS answer, which Martin Ansell, in particular, maintains his wrong. He insists HOOCH is right, while someone else, whose name I've lsot amid the deluge, says it BOXED. So instead, here's ace author Jonathan Wilson with a triva question: "Which two players who have played for Sunderland in the Premier League have dads who appeared in Escape to Victory?"

GOAL! Wigan 1-0 United (Rodallega 29')

29 mins: See how easy it is to score against United if you go at them? Rodallega jumped for a long diagonal ball into the box, Vidic got flustered and bawled for a freekick, Rodallega ignored the Serbian's whimpering and fired the ball into the net from close range! Things just got very interesting ...

32 mins: Rooney swings a tasty cross in from the right. Kingson surges off his line to pluck it off Berbatov's head. Meanwhile, "is the doctor the boy's mother?" asks razor-sharp Marlin Pike, who, amusingly, sounds a lot like the palatial residence of a retired sea captain whom we all surely know and love.

34 mins: United take a corner short. Rooney then lofts the ball into the centre. Melchiot butts it clear. Then the ref stops play to lecture Vidic, who's still moaning about the goal, which was entirely legitmate. "By the way, the answer to Vidic's riddle beneath your photo is because they watched Torres tear him a new one," explains Ian Copestake.

36 mins: Rooney runs like blazes down the line and then, quite fittingly, blazes the ball over the bar.

37 mins: Long ball up towards Rodallega. Vidic leans forcefully into him, and the Colombia goes down clutching his throat. That was no more a foul that the striker's duel with Vidic before the goal. Still, the spite that has seeped into this game is surely most welcome for Liverpool and, indeed, Arsenal, who could salvage some pride from a miserable season by thwarting United at the weekend. That would make up for 1989 wouldn't it, Liverpool fans?

40 mins: Cattermole sticks in a trademark chop on Carrick. Freekick to United, 27.78 yards from goal or thereabouts, a little to the left. Ronaldo smasks int into the wall. Again. He is roundly lampooned by thousands of Wiganites. Again. And now, introducing Alan Bossman, the fastest Googler in the west. "The answer the Jonathan Wilson's question is: Nicky Summerbee (Mike Summerbee) and Marton Fulop (Ferenc Fulop, who scored two for the Germans)".

43 mins: Splendid interplay between a slew of United players culminates with Ronaldo slipping the ball through to Rooney, who scoops it high over the bar from 10 yards. "Ian Copestake is only half right," yodles John R. Martin. "He is missing the word 'twice'."

44 mins: Cattermole and Scharner pressurises Carrick into a mistake, and then Cattermole sends a low rasper in to test Van der Sar. The keeper rises to it. The test, that is, not the low rasper, to which he stooped. ONe thing Jonathan Wilson forgot to mention," squeals Brett Knowsuk. "Niall Quinn is Sylvester Stallone's son."

45 mins: Cracking break by Wigan. Through swift, smooth passing they forged an opening for Rodallega, whose shot wasn't up to what preceded it, and fizzled wide. Or something.

Half-time: The half-time whistle brings an incredulous reaction from Vidic, who throws his hands up to his face before looking disbelievingly to the sky. He's not going to quibble with Rob Styles's time-keeping aswell, is he? Go on, that would be a fabulous way to get a fourth red card of the season! "If Arsenal help Liverpool win the title, I will indeed forgive them for 1989," poops George Lewis. "I will also forgive Michael Thomas, and I'll even consider letting Souness of the hook for going on to sign him."

Observation: "United are looking riled and petulant, as they did in the Fulham game." That's true, Lila Proof. But they also look like that in many games that they win. It is, for instance, Rooney's default setting, isn't it?

SWIMS "The brightsparks who are moaning about the answer to the five-letter riddle are doing a vertical flip, not rotating the word so that it's genuinely upside-down," notes Jordan Pickering. "Of course, as an ex-graphic-designer, my reaction was 'depends what typeface you're using'."

OK, one more riddle: "A priest walks up to a zookeeper and shows him a picture of himself as a child," scene-sets Terence Buchanan. "The zookeeper immediately runs to the big cat enclosure and shoots the lions. Why?"

46 mins: United's comeback attempt begins. "I know the answer to the last riddle," hurrahs Chris Zammarelli. "Is it: the zookeeper is Nemanja Vidic?" Alas not, but it should be. Instead, it is this, and will no doubt prompt calls for me to publish terence Buchanan's address so that disappointed readers can hunt him down and beat him with a cashmere pumpkin, or something else suitably absurd: "Both men were actors in an avant garde French film."

48 mins: A tame opening to the second period, if you want to know the truth. "The SWIMS riddle is ambiguous," stammers Clark Whitney. "I can't find 'upside down' defined anywhere online, so it begs the question of what symmetry operation you want to use. If it's a 180 degree rotation, SWIMS is valid. If it's a horizontal reflection, HOOCH is the way to go." Several readers have suggested SOLOS. That works either way, doesn't it? And with added palindromic fun to boot. Say, can anyone think of any footballers with palindromic surnames?

49 mins: Slick one-two twixt Berbatov and Ronaldo. Followed by a woeful long-range shot by Ronaldo.

51 mins: Throw-in to Wigan in United's third. Melchiot hurls it to Valencia, who pumps in a cross. Rodallega leaps with Vidic, who puts it behind for a corner and then whinges about the lack of a freekick. It's not really a riddle, Nemanja: the reason you didn't get a freekick is because it wasn't a foul.

53 mins: Figueroa with a powerful, over-ambitious shot from the angle of the box. Unsurprisingly the ball flies into the stand.

55 mins: Scholes slips the ball into Rooney, who goes down in the box under a tackle ferom Scharner. The United fans bay for a penalty but there's no appeal from Rooney. The replay shows the Austrian's tackle was well-timed. Meanwhile, all doff your caps to Shreekanth Acharya, who offers the following palindromic surname: (Marcelo) Salas.

56 mins: Nzogbia curls in a corner that O'Shea heads clear.

58 mins: United substitution: Tevez on, Anderson off. United are going gung-ho in a bid to avoid a humiliating collapse in the title race. It's what Kevin Keegan would want. "Not to flog a dead horse in the mouth, but any doubters over the meaning of 'upside-down' should write HOOCH on a piece of paper and then attempt a vertical flip," toots Jordan Pickering. "If you aren't looking at the blank reverse of your page, then let me know."

60 mins: Chaos in the Wigan box! Rooney led a frantic charge forward. Five United players streamed into the Wigan box and the ball pinged around in there for a few seconds until Bramble desperately hoofed it clear. "(Massimo) Oddo is another one!" thunder several of you.

GOAL! Wigan 1-1 United (Tevez 61')

61 mins: Carrick collects the ball some 25 yards from goal and liens up a shot. It's going nowhere near the target but on its way through the six-yard box Tevez gets an artful flick to it to turn it past the wrong-footed keeper and into the net!

63 mins: Tevez gifts the ball to Cattermole in the centre circle ... but then earns further love from the United fans - who are roaring "Fergie, sign him up, Fergie, Fergie, sign him up" - by hurtling back to retrieve possession.

65 mins: It's not the one-way traffic you probably anticipated at this point; Wigan are still carrying a slight threat, though United are, of course, enjoying most of the possession.

67 mins: Splendid ball over the top by Evra, and Tevez lashes after it ... until he's called back because the linesman had wrongly flagged for offside. "What Jordan Pickering's comment on 58 minutes shows ..." ejects Matthew BEll. " the need for more transparency.

69 mins: Ronaldo, who has done very little tonight, races after an over-hit Vidic pass and eventually catches up with it by the corner flag. He then crosses towards the centre, but Bramble nuts it away.

72 mins: Ronaldo scampers down the right and into the box, where he goes to ground following an almost imperticble nudge from Figueroa. No penalty. "Here's a hell of a palindrome for you," bugles Sean Moore. "Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog."

74 mins: Scharner strips the ball from Ronaldo with a well-executed sliding tackle just outside the box. But ominously, the Portuguese is gaining in influence ...

75 mins: United change: Scholes off, Giggs on.

76 mins: Ronaldo rifles yet another freekick into the wall. Meanwhile in France, where the title race is far closer than in England, I see Bordeaux are being held at Valenciennes, and Marseille have won at Nice. And Alain Perrin's Saint-Etienne have helped their would-be relegation escape by triumphing 4-2 at Le Havre. Exciting, eh?

78 mins: Lovely stuff from United in the middle of the park .. until Giggs loses it. "Andy Grary on Sky has given us yet another instance of a pundit instantly making up his mind and not changing it, despite what replays may suggest," fumes Scott Broadhurst. "No mention of the pathetic tumble from Ronaldo, just the tiny bit of contact he received which did not cause said fall."

80 mins: Rooney shoots, Kingson saves. "Since his form has certainly spiked since he realized that United probably won't keep him, maybe United should figure out a way to keep Tevez on a perpetual one month rolling contract that they can cancel at any time," dribbles Jon Cummins. "He'd get 40 goals a season."

81 mins: Giggs nips the ball into Tevez, who holds off his marker and tees up Ronaldo, who slashes it over the bar from 18 yards and then turns to berate a team-mate. Go figure. "Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas," palindrones Mark Bladon.

82 mins: Wigan change: N'Zogbia off, Mido on.

84 mins: Ronaldo scorches down the right and crosses low into the six-yard box. Boyce inconveniences Tevez enough to ensure the Argentine can't get a clean contact on the ball and Kingson mops up before Rooney can pounce. "Could it be that Dave Whelan has been embarrassed by the efforts of his players and wished them to go a little bit easier on United in the second half," screeches Paul Little. "After all, it would be shame for Wigan to undermine the United title tilt?"

GOAL! Wigan 1-2 United (Carrick 86')

86 mins: O'Shea strides forward to join the attack. Ronaldo rolls it inside to him. The Irishman helps it on to Carrick, who takes a touch and thunders it into the top corner from 20 yards! Surely United have won the title.

87 mins: United substitution: Park on, Berbatov off. "Check out my palindrome," unzips W Mager. "A MAN. A PLAN. A CANAL. PANAMA!"

89 mins: That could have sealed it: but Ronaldo thumped the ball way over the bar from the rim of the area.

90 mins: There will be a minumum of three more minutes.

90+2 mins: Mido flicks on a long ball, Evans boots clear.

90+3 mins: Wigan waste 30 seconds deciding who will take a freekick. Rodallega eventually lifts it into the box, and after a scramble Wigan win a corner. Could there be a sensational equaliser? No.

Full-time: A spirited and sometimes-slick display by Wigan, but United now need only one point to equal Liverpool's record number of title wins.
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