Figueroa firecracker revives Wigan hopes
Wigan Athletic 2 Birmingham City 1
Sunday 20 March 2011
Maynor Figueroa does not score many goals but when he does they are almost always special. His dramatic stoppage time strike which dragged Birmingham into the relegation zone was no different as Wigan, the Premier League's bottom club, came from behind to seal a deserved win and breathe new life into their fight to stay up.
Figueroa was awarded the coveted BBC Match Of The Day Goal of the Season award for his finish from inside his own half against Stoke City in December 2009. His 20-yard effort in stoppage time here might not have been as pleasing on the eye, but it could prove one of the most crucial goals in Wigan's history.
Having got back on level terms through Tom Cleverley after Liam Ridgewell had given the visitors a sixth minute lead, they did everything but score.
Roberto Martinez's side were frustrated time and again in their search for a second goal, Ben Foster producing a great save with his foot to thwart Figueroa before the Honduras full-back struck with his right foot.
"It's taken him 100 appearances to score a perfect hat-trick," said Martinez, whose side remain bottom of the table with eight games remaining. "The one against Stoke was with his left foot, he scored a header against Tottenham and now he's scored with his right foot. Obviously it's a very important win but it's impossible to guess the points tally we are going to need. With our goal difference, we're going to need more than 40 points."
The last time Birmingham scored more than two in a League game was against Wigan in December 2009, but McLeish's side must have thought they could repeat that feat when Ridgewell finished from seven yards in the sixth minute after Martin Jiranek's flick-on. But Wigan's first goal in more than five hours eased the nerves of the home fans, Cleverley finishing off a fine 26th minute move from close range after Emmerson Boyce marked his return from injury by teeing up the on-loan Manchester United midfielder.
Birmingham were denied a half-time lead after Sebastian Larsson's free kick in stoppage time rattled the bar but there was only one team in it after the break. "When we conceded the first goal we seemed to lose the plot," said McLeish. "We should have been professional enough to have seen it through. Figueroa's right foot should be to stand on but how the ball finished up in the back of the net is a mystery."
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Figueroa
Match rating: 8/10
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