Figueroa's audacity adds to transfer value
Stoke City 2 Wigan Athletic 2
Monday 14 December 2009
Years after David Seaman was lobbed by Nayim from the halfway line, people would approach him and mimic a man tottering backwards. Thomas Sorensen will be the fall guy flapping forlornly whenever Maynor Figueroa's stupendous goal for Wigan is replayed, though the Stoke goalkeeper will clearly not be losing sleep over his role in the episode.
Sorensen may yet be subjected to the same treatment as old "Safe Hands" at his previous club, Aston Villa, on Saturday. Yet if he was embarrassed to be beaten by a defender from the far half of the pitch, he disguised it well. Perhaps feeling he had atoned by saving Hugo Rodallega's last-minute penalty, the Dane fronted up to questions about Figueroa's 60-yard free-kick.
"It's never great to be beaten from that distance, but you have to credit his awareness and his strike was unbelievable. I don't think I've seen one like that for years," Sorensen said. "He saw the opportunity and I'd rather give him credit than be too sad myself."
Figueroa's Wigan team-mate Paul Scharner added to the plaudits, revealing that the left-back "tries to shoot from everywhere". The Austrian added: "He stopped it a little bit over the last few months but we all know he has got a big hit. It should be goal of the month, minimum!"
For the Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, Figueroa's feat was a double-edged sword. A player originally signed by Steve Bruce has been tipped for a big-money move – and the goal was tantamount to a TV advert showing that his defensive prowess comes with added scoring power.
"We know we won't be able to keep Maynor for ever," Martinez said. "He's gradually fulfiling his potential, which is to go to the very top. But he's got the World Cup in front of him with Honduras. A change of club wouldn't be a good idea before such a big event in his career."
Tony Pulis was keen not to sound sour over the goal, which restored Wigan's lead late on, yet the Stoke manager did not accept that Sorensen had redeemed himself. Asked about the secret technique his keeper claims to employ on spot-kicks, his reply focused on Emmerson Boyce's opener for Wigan after Sorensen parried Rodallega's header. "Thomas should sort out his technique of flipping it over the bar when people head the ball at him," Pulis said. "Whatever technique he's using to save penalties, he needs to sharpen up on that one."
The outstanding Tuncay Sanli and Ryan Shawcross twice equalised for Stoke, with Sorensen's opposite number Chris Kirkland badly at fault each time. However, even the Premier League's most one-eyed crowd left in awe of Figueroa's audacity and execution.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Wilkinson; Delap, Diao (Whelan, 62), Whitehead, Etherington; Tuncay, Fuller (Beattie, 83). Subs not used: Simonsen (gk), Higginbotham, Sidibe, Pugh, Collins.
Wigan Athletic (4-5-1): Kirkland; Melchiot, Boyce (Sinclair, 47), Bramble, Figueroa; Gomez, Koumas (Scotland, 78), Diame, Scharner, N'Zogbia; Rodallega. Subs not used: Kingson (gk), Amaya, Cho, De Ridder, McCarthy.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Booked: Stoke Abdoulaye Faye, Tuncay, Diao, Wilkinson; Wigan Scharner.
Man of the match: Tuncay.
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