Striker handball gifts former Latic a penalty which he prompted blasted past Ali Al Habsi to earn a point for the Toffees.A needless Hugo Rodallega handball gifted Everton an equalizer that meant Wigan Athletic had to settle for a 1-1 draw in this crucial match, leaving the Latics inside the Premier League relegation places.
Charles N’Zogbia fired Wigan in to an early lead but he nearly undid all his hard work when he gave Everton a penalty in the 35th minute but Ali Al Habsi spared his blushes with an excellent save. However Rodallega’s handball in the 77th gave Leighton Baines the chance to grab Everton an equalizer and he smashed the ball past Al Habsi.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez made just one change from the side who were beaten against Sunderland, Maynor Figueroa returned to the side following his suspension in place of Steve Gohouri who dropped to the bench.
Everton were boosted by the return of two of their key players following spells on the sidelines, and David Moyes made a third change to the side who came so close to getting a point at Old Trafford. Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill were both recalled to the starting line-up, along with Victor Anichebe, in place of Seamus Coleman, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Jermaine Beckford.
The match started with both sides having good possession, but without really threatening either goal. In fact, it took 21 minutes before either keeper was called into action.
A patient build up from the home side saw the the ball move from left to right before James McCarthy chipped a pass over Leighton Baines for Charles N’Zgobia to run onto. The Frenchman was unable to control the ball at first, but once he did, he blasted a shot past goalkeeper Tim Howard from a tight angle.
The goal was the spark the game needed and two minutes later Everton were almost level through the lively Leon Osman. The midfielder turned Figueroa inside out on the right side of the penalty area before firing a right foot shot towards the top corner, but Ali Al Habsi saved well.
With just ten minutes of the half remaining Everton were given a great chance to get themselves back in this match after N’Zogbia mistimed a challenge on Leon Osman inside the penalty area. Baines played a short corner to Osman who was caught by the Wigan man just inside the penalty area and referee Lee Mason had no hesitation in awarding the visitors a penalty kick. Arteta stepped up to take the spot kick, but Al Habsi made a fantastic save diving full stretch to his right to palm the ball away, much to the relief of N’Zogbia.
The game began to get a bit scrappy as both sides battled in midfield to try and dominate possession, and it was Wigan who had the only other chance of the half in the very last minute of added time at the end of the first half. Another slow build up from the home side saw most of the team touch the ball at least once before Cleverley found Boyce on the right wing. The full back’s cross was too high for Rodallega, but Tony Hibbert’s flicked header only found N’Zogbia. The Frenchman got the ball on his left foot, but his low strike was parried away by Howard.
Latics apply pressure| Rodallega evades a Distin challenge to shoot at goal
The visitors began the second half strongly, but still seemed to be lacking that clinical touch upfront. They did threaten from a Baines set piece, but there was no one to get a shot on target.
Wigan had looked a little sluggish at the start of the half, but it was the substitution of N’Zgobia due to injury that sparked them back into life as Victor Moses came on to breathe new life into the Latics.
Six minutes after coming on the youngster had two chances to double Wigan’s lead, but he was denied on both occasions by Howard. The first came after a scramble in the Everton box, the ball landed at Moses’ feet but his low shot was pushed away by Howard. And seconds later Boyce jinked past Baines before playing the ball into Moses, but his first time shot was tipped over the bar by the American goalkeeper.
Moses was causing Everton all kinds of trouble and in the 68th he had another chance to double the home side’s lead. The winger beat Baines on the right wing, he cut inside but his left foot shot was blocked. The loose ball fell to James McCarthy, but his shot was also blocked before the Everton defense was able to clear their lines.
Despite Wigan’s dominance in the second half, they gifted the visitors a way back into the match in the 77th minute as they gave away a second penalty of the game. This time Rodallega needlessly handled the ball inside the area while defending a Baines corner. The full back stepped up to take this spot kick and he made no mistake as he blasted the ball past Al Habsi.
After the Everton equalizer Martinez introduced Franco Di Santo for Tom Cleverley and the on-loan Chelsea man nearly won it for Wigan in the 86th minute. A bouncing ball was latched onto by the striker, but his acrobatic volley well saved by Howard.
With pressure growing, Wigan continued to press, but they were unable to find the opening they needed. A counter attack from McCarthy created an opportunity for Di Santo to cross the ball into the box, his low ball was met by Rodallega, but the Colombian’s strike was from too tight an angle.
Everton survived a final scare when in the dying minutes Howard was unable to claim a cross. A goal mouth scramble ensued, but when the loose ball rolled to Rodallega he fired over the bar and the home side had to make do with a point.
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