Wigan's final game of an eight-year spell in the Premier League comes to a close with a goal-laden clash with Aston Villa.
Darren Bent, handed a rare start, opened the scoring with a low drive from the edge of the area but goals from Emmerson Boyce and a Nathan Baker own goal put the home side ahead at the break. Villa's second-half equalizer was the goal of the game as Ron Vlaar executed a perfect volley into the top corner of Ali Al Habsi's goal.
Wigan made three changes from the defeat to Arsenal that confirmed the club's relegation. Al Habsi returned in goal, Roman Golobart in defense and Ben Watson came into midfield. Joel Robles, Antolin Alcaraz and Callum McManaman made way. For Villa there were two changes, with Christian Benteke serving a one-game suspension so Darren Bent was given a rare start with Matt Lowton returning in place of Eric Lichaj at right back.
The game began at frantic pace with both sides keen to end the season on a high but it was Villa who looked the more dangerous as Joe Bennett tested Al Habsi with an early free kick. Within six minutes the first goal arrived and it was forgotten man Bent who put the visiting side ahead.
Gabriel Agbonlahor spun away from two men in midfield and played a perfect pass in to Bent, the striker got the ball onto his favored right foot and fired a low shot in off the post from the edge of the area.
Wigan’s equalizer came in the 20th minute as the whole ground was applauding for Stilyan Petrov. Roger Espinoza was freed down the left wing and delivered a perfect cross to the back post where Boyce rose above Joe Bennett and powered his header beyond Guzan.
As the half came to a close the home side took the lead through an unfortunate own goal from Baker. A left wing corner brought a goal mouth scramble inside the penalty area, Watson saw a shot cleared off the line by Ashley Westwood only for the ball to hit Baker and roll into the net.
The home side began the second half the stronger as both McCarthy and Kone wasted good chances to extend the lead further.
The club was made to pay for the missed opportunities on the hour as Vlaar equalized with a stunning volley from 18 yards. Joe Bennett delivered a free kick into the penalty area, the central defender brought the ball down, swivelled and unleashed a unstoppable volley into the top corner giving Al Habsi no chance.
Both sides pushed for a late winner but neither goalkeeper was called into action as the finishing lacked quality, the only real chance came with 11 minutes remaining when James McArthur saw his controlled volley crash against Guzan's crossbar.