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15:08 15th May 2011


N'Zogbia last gasp winner keeps Latics in the race for Premier League survival

N'Zogbia 57, 90+4
Sammon 68

Ba 12, 26

Report by Paul Chialton

Words could never do justice in describing a miraculous afternoon at the DW Stadium.

From agony to ecstasy Wigan Athletic produced the comeback of all comebacks to re-ignite their survival bid and go into the final weekend of the season with a fantastic opportunity to secure a seventh season in the top-flight.

Charles N'Zogbia was the hero, starting the Latics revival ten minutes into the second-half.

2-0 down at the break Roberto Martinez's words must have been ringing in the players' ears as his team started the second period intent on pulling back the score-line, injected by the introduction of Conor Sammon and Victor Moses.

Setting off on a trademark slalom targeting the West Ham defence N'Zogbia was fouled by James Tomkins 20-yards out. Picking himself up the Frenchman took aim and powered his effort into the top-left corner to half the deficit and revitalise the DW Stadium.

A Demba Ba double had put the visitors into a strong lead within the half-hour, twice heading home from close range to dampen Latics' lively, bubbly start in which Momo Diame and Hugo Rodallega were denied by excellent and instinctive saves from Robert Green.

But N'Zogbia's goal was the catalyst for a final 30 minutes that has to be one of the most thrilling, pulsating and exhausting the Premier League has seen all season.

Conor Sammon, already a cult-hero among the home fans, endeared himself further to the home fans with his contributions after coming on. His pressure and persistent running rattled the home defence into unforced errors and, in many ways, together with Moses the two were an inspiration for the home side throughout the second period.

The Irishman got the rewards for his hard-work and endeavour shortly after the hour-mark, fed into the area by N'Zogbia the forward but back onto his right-foot before slotting calmly into the bottom-right corner to notch his first Wigan Athletic goal and send the DW Stadium into delirium, sensing another goal on the horizon.

With both sides needing a win at all costs the twenty minutes that followed were more resembling of a Basketball match than a game of football. It was attack v defence, end to end stuff with space opening up all over the field and the game there for the taking.

It came down to who could hold their nerve and take advantage of the opportunities that were presented. Heroic defending from Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa denied West Ham from close range, whilst the ever-calm Antolin Alcaraz was calculated in his interventions inside his own area.

Then came the moment the game had been waiting for. Finding space inside the West Ham box Charles N'Zogbia, who had now scored three goals in his last three games, smelt a fourth, and an electrifying winner.

Shifting onto his trusty left-foot the winger took aim and blasted into the bottom-left corner. Cue some of the most incredible celebrations ever witnessed at the DW Stadium in what was billed as one of the biggest games the Latics home has ever hosted.

Referee Mike Dean blew the whistle ten seconds later, exploding the home fans ahead of the team's lap of appreciation - a truly remarkable day that each one of the 22,043 who attended will never forget.

Some way to round off the final home game of the campaign, now for the season finale next Sunday at Stoke City, a game Latics will go to in high spirits and full of belief after one of the greatest results in their history.

Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, McCarthy (Sammon), G. Caldwell (c) Watson, N'Zogbia, Cleverley (Moses, 45), Boyce, Rodallega (McArthur, 90+3), Diame, Figueroa.

Kirkland, Gohouri, Di Santo, Gomez

West Ham Utd: Green, Gabbison, Tomkins, Collison (Keane, 84), Hitzlesperger, Spector (Parker, 61), Ba, Hines, Piquionne (Cole, 75), Spence, Bridge.

Boffin, Da Costa, Sears, Upson

Referee: Mike Dean

    Data provided by Press Association