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Wigan manager Roberto Martinez 'gobsmacked' at 'shocking decision' to send off Conor Sammon in defeat to Manchester United

The Latics striker was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Michael Carrick in the first half as United cruised to a comfortable 5-0 win on Boxing Day at Old Trafford

By Greg Stobart at Old Trafford

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez slammed referee Phil Dowd for his "shocking decision" to send off Conor Sammon in the Latics 5-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Sammon was shown a red card in the 39th minute after raising his arm in a challenge with Michael Carrick. With the score 1-0 at the time, it proved the turning point of the game as United coasted to victory to move level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

Martinez was furious with the decision and believes Sammon's challenge was no different to one from Dimitar Berbatov – who scored a hat-trick for the hosts – in the build-up to United's second goal.

“The red card is a shocking decision,” Martinez said. “I was surprised when he gave the free-kick and gobsmacked he gave a red card.

“It was an incredible call. It happened on every single ball Carrick and Sammon were fighting for. Berbatov used the same technique in the box for a goal and it was allowed.

“If you want to give decisions like that, then we will end with five or six players on each team. I think football is a contact sport and you need to measure what is a foul and what's not.

“I thought the fans of Manchester United and Wigan deserved a bigger challenge on the pitch today but we didn't get the big calls.

“I thought we could give United a game in the second-half, so it was disappointing. We gave a sloppy goal away but I felt we were starting to play like ourselves and starting to get on the ball.”

Park Ji-Sung slotted United ahead after eight minutes and Berbatov made the extra man count from close range four minutes before the break. The Bulgarian secured his hat-trick with goals either side of Antonio Valencia's strike.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who were missing 10 players through injury, are now second in the Premier League and only behind rivals Manchester City on goal difference with 18 games played so far this season.

Martinez believes the winning mentality at Old Trafford will make United hard to beat this season as the two Manchester clubs battle for the title.

He added: “What Manchester United have got is that mentally and that experience. What they achieve as a team is what every team wants – they react to the adversity you find in football.

“That mentality is the biggest strength of Manchester United in the last 25 years. You need to be able to beat Manchester United mentally.”