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14:12 26th December 2011


Wigan suffer first defeat in four games after game turned on a harsh red card for Connor Sammon

Park 9
Berbatov 42, 58, 78
Valencia 75

Sammon sent off

Report by Nick Taylor

It was a Boxing Day to forget for Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford, finishing the game having conceded five goals without reply to Manchester United, with just ten men on the pitch.

The turning point that resulted in a numerical disadvantage for Roberto Martinez's men came five minutes before the break, when referee Phil Dowd penalised Conor Sammon for raising an elbow to Michael Carrick, with replays showing an innocuous challenge that would warrant not even a free-kick.

The decision made all the more infuriating as Dimitar Berbatov would go on to use a similar tactic in scoring his first goal of the afternoon with no reprimand.

Latics fans came out in force in traditional fancy dress but despite their fantastic support, a Berbatov hat-trick and goals from Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park spoilt their party.

The home side opened the scoring on eight minutes, when United worked the ball from left to right and Park found himself in acres of space on the penalty spot to smash the ball into the top left hand corner of Ali Al Habsi's goal.

Latics had a great chance to equalise just four minutes later when Sammon couldn't get on the end of an exquisite Ronnie Stam cross.

Roberto Martinez's men pushed and pushed to equalise with Moses providing the danger down both flanks as he twisted and turned the United defenders but there was no end product.

Then came the game changer.

A long ball forward by Al Habsi was challenged for by Sammon and Michael Carrick, with Sammon trying to outmuscle Carrick using his arms but not in an aggressive manner.

Dowd didn't see it that way and sent the big Irish man off despite Latics' protests.

Two minutes later, Berbatov took advantage of some risky Latics defending, finding himself in space for a simple finish past Al Habsi.

The sending off had clearly wounded the away side and there was no coming back after half time.

On the hour-mark Berbatov added a second when he picked the ball up with his back to goal, swivelled round Gary Caldwell and finished off the move with a great shot high into the goal.

Latics pushed and pushed for a goal all afternoon but to no avail, even when Franco Di Santo had battled off Ezekiel Fryers in defence but his shot was panicked and came to nothing.

A familiar face in Valencia started at right-back for United but despite that he found himself running the right hand side all game. He got what he deserved in all fairness when he scored the fourth for United on 75 minutes.

Again Latics failed to close down and the Ecuadorian fired his shot into the bottom corner, Al Habsi could do nothing about it and the pace took it past the goalkeeper.

Berbatov ended the game two minutes later when he converted a penalty.

Antolin Alcaraz was the offender but, his foul looked to be outside the area and despite protests again, the decision went against Latics.

The Bulgarian simply rolled the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal to draw an end on a sour Boxing Day for Latics who'll now look for a response at Stoke City on Saturday.

Latics: Al Habsi, Stam, Figueroa, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Jones, Diame (Di Santo, 45), McCarthy, Gomez (McArthur, 71), Moses (Rodallega, 79), Sammon

Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Watson, Crusat

Man Utd: Lindegaard, Valencia, Carrick, Evra, Evans (Fryers, 45), Gibson, Giggs (Macheda, 63), Nani (Rooney, 63), Hernandez, Berbatov

Subs: De Gea, Rafael, Welbeck, Diouf

    Data provided by Press Association