Wigan claim first European win

Around 100 fans made the trip from Slovenia

Wigan and Maribor prepare to restart after Ben Watson’s goal

Nick Powell scored twice as Wigan Athletic won their first ever home European game with a 3-1 win over NK Maribor in the Europa League.

The midfielder, who started up front tonight, could have had five but his brace, combined with a goal from the outstanding Ben Watson, proved enough as the Lactics outclassed their Slovenian counterparts.

Athletic could have gone ahead early on but a fine save from Jasmin Handanovic in the Maribor goal prevented Powell from opening the scoring.

But Powell, on loan from Manchester United, put that miss behind him to score the home side’s first ever European goal after a horrendous error by Handanovic.

Jean Beausejour swung in a cross that should have easily been dealt with, but the visiting team’s ‘keeper somehow punched the ball behind him to give Powell an easy finish.

Wigan continued to press in search of a second goal, and it came soon after when an excellent Beausejour cross was expertly headed home by FA Cup final hero Watson.

Powell should have put the game to bed just before half time but couldn’t find the target when he was played through on goal.

Maribor didn’t look like scoring, barely testing Scott Carson in the first half, but they pulled a goal back to give the travelling 100 or so fans something to cheer after a series of poor defending from Ryan Shotton.

First the centre back was beaten by Jean Philippe Mendy, then he failed to clear Tavares’ shot from the pull back, despite it being almost straight at him.

That goal put Wigan on edge, but the home side held firm thanks to the irrepressible Watson and James McArthur in central midfield controlling the game.

Powell was guilty of possibly miss of the season late on as he could only hit the post from a yard out after a good cross by Watson.

Carson was called into action again in the 90th minute when he made a brilliant save from Tavares’ shot.

Powell doubled his tally in the last minute to wrap up the win when he brilliantly dribbled past two players before finishing past Handanovic with ease.

Manager Owen Coyle was pleased with his side’s victory, saying: “The football we played, we passed and moved the ball at a real intensity culminating in some terrific goalscoring chances. Not that there is any negative, but there’s no doubt we could have scored six or seven goals tonight.”

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