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Premier League

  • 24 March 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Anfield, Liverpool
  • Referee: L. Mason
  • • Attendance: 44431
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Liverpool 1-2 Wigan: Maloney & Caldwell cancel out Suarez strike to consign Dalglish's men to fifth league defeat in six

Liverpool 1-2 Wigan: Maloney & Caldwell cancel out Suarez strike to consign Dalglish's men to fifth league defeat in six

Getty

A first-half penalty from the Irishman and a superb finish from the central defender give the Latics hope in their attempts to stave off relegation from the Premier League

Wigan Athletic earned their first ever victory over Liverpool at Anfield after goals from Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell gave them a 2-1 win.

The visitors held on heroically for three vital points in the face of concerted late Reds pressure, having regained the lead through Caldwell's cool finish just past the hour mark after Suarez had cancelled out Maloney's spot-kick opener.

The shock result lifts Wigan to within a single point of safety with eight matches remaining, while Liverpool have now slumped to their fifth defeat in six Premier League matches.

Itching to recover from their late humiliation at Loftus Road on Wednesday evening, the home side made two enforced changes to the side which started against QPR. Martin Kelly and Charlie Adam were both forced to withdraw, and were replaced by 19-year-old John Flanagan and Jordan Henderson respectively.

Meanwhile, Wigan were unchanged from their 1-1 draw against West Brom last Saturday, with Franco di Santo retaining his place as the lone striker.

It was a positive start by Wigan, who looked enterprising and kept the home side pinned in their own half in the opening few minutes, as Liverpool struggled to keep hold of possession. Any breaks forward by the hosts were well-contained by the Latics, with Jean Beausejour in particular impressing in the opening 10 minutes.

The away side were doing a good job of frustrating their more illustrious opponents and breaking up their attacks, and in the 11th minute they produced the first clear chance.

Victor Moses broke into the penalty area but had his shot blocked, when he could have played in Shaun Maloney for a tap-in. It was by the far the best opening for either side, and Maloney’s frustration at not receiving the pass was evident.

As the half wore on, the home side were beginning to dominate possession, with captain Steven Gerrard beginning to grow into the game in the centre of midfield and dictating the attacking play. Wigan, however, were defending stoutly and keeping the ball well to frustrate their opponents and silence the vociferous home support.

But Liverpool were able to produce their best chance of the afternoon in the 24th minute after some superb build-up play around the Latics penalty area. A cheeky flick by Luis Suarez found Stewart Downing unmarked in the box, but his shot flashed across the face of goal when he should probably have hit the target.

Seconds later Wigan had a free-kick and, after some confusion in the home side’s penalty area, the dangerous Moses received a boot in the face from Martin Skrtel, and the referee Lee Mason awarded the penalty.

After some confusion caused by the absence of regular penalty-taker Hugo Rodallega and the injury received by Moses in that passage of play, Maloney stepped up and coolly slotted the ball past Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina, giving the away side a shock lead.

The frustration was growing among the Liverpool fans, both at their inability to hold onto the ball and to find any favour with the referee, and despite some speculative long-distance efforts, they were unable to create any more clear openings before the break.

The second half began with Andy Carroll replacing Jordan Henderson, and the home side immediately found an equaliser, as Gerrard's superb delivery was tucked away by Suarez. It was a great finish from the Uruguayan, and gave Ali Al-Habsi no chance in the Latics’ goal.

Suarez was again in the action a few minutes later, bundling the ball home from close-range. However, to the fury of the Liverpool bench, the goal was disallowed and the Reds striker was deservedly booked after punching the ball over the line with his hand.

After few chances in the following minutes, Wigan made a break forward in the 63rd minute and, after selling Andy Carroll a superb dummy, central defender Caldwell found himself in acres of space in the penalty area to coolly finish past Reina to give the Latics the lead again.

The goal gave the away side a much-needed lift, while frustration then began to creep into Liverpool’s play as they struggled to break down the Wigan defence.

The Reds poured forward in desperation but, despite a free-kick in the 83rd minute just outside the penalty area which hit the wall, the home side were unable to create any clear chances, and Wigan hung on to record a famous and vital victory.

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