Brave Latics continue fine run in the FA Cup with Budweiser to book Wembley spot.
An incredible backs to the wall performance saw mighty FA Cup holders Latics knock out Manchester City for the second year in succession to set up a mouth-watering semi-final against Arsenal – in just about as exciting a game of football you could hope for.
Goals from Jordi Gomez from the spot and James Perch either side of half-time made it twelve FA Cup ties unbeaten and another historic win over City. After Samir Nasri pulled one back, it was edge of the seat stuff, with Latics clinging on in front of nearly 4,000 delirious supporters. Oh and for the record, this was Latics’ 6th victory on the trot.
It really was an astonishing performance from Rosler’s men, who surprised City by taking the game to them on their own turf , preventing them from having a shot on target for the first hour of the contest – how many teams can say they have done that at the Etihad Stadium this, or indeed, any other season?
The big surprise from a Latics point of view before kick-off was the return of Scott Carson in goal after the thigh injury that has kept him out since mid-December and he was greeted warmly by the fans.
Latics actually managed the first effort within two minutes, Jordi Gomez firing over from the edge of the box after a dynamic breakaway which had begun when Gomez turned in the centre circle and sent James
Perch free on the right hand side. And it was Latics who threatened next again, Perch teasing a cross in which Marc Antoine Fortune almost reached, City scrambling it away.
City’s first chance came only after 22 minutes, Jesus Navas latching on to a clever ball by Yaya Toure on the right side of the box, but it was actually a touch from Ivan Ramis that almost beat Scott Carson, who dived quickly to smother it.
City upped a gear and Sergio Aguero pulled the ball back dangerously, Ramis again on hand to clear. Then Samir Nasri crossed dangerously from the left and Alvaro Negrodo just failed to reach it.
Then came the penalty just short of the half hour mark. Fortune brilliantly turned Martin Demichelis inside the box on the left hand side receiving a throw-in from Stephen Crainey and the Argentine defender pulled him down – referee Anthony Taylor took a couple of seconds to ponder his decision before pointing to the spot. Stonewaller.
Gomez, cool as the proverbial cucumber in the ice box on a freezing day, despatched it low to Costel Pantilimon’s left as the giant City keeper dived the other way. Latics’ huge army roared in celebration at the other end.
City grew increasingly frustrated and there was controversy on 38 minutes when after a fierce but fair challenge by Micah Richards on Callum McManaman then saw three players bundle the winger over, Navas appearing to elbow him in the face. MacManaman reacted but the referee calmed matters down.
The game was really hotting up, Emmerson Boyce going in heavy on Negredo but again, judged fairly before another full blooded challenge, this time involving Chris McCann and human tree trunk Richards.
Latics finished the half the strongest, forcing three corners in succession, Gomez delivering great balls into the box and City at full stretch to clear.
The injured McCann was replaced by Leon Barnett at the break and within two minutes of the restart, Latics were in dream land. James McArthur ripped down the left, pulled a low ball into the box and Perch came in behind Gael Clichy at the far post to bundle the ball in. Incredible.
What a time to score your first goal for the club. A minute later, it was almost three but Fortune poked it on to the post, but was flagged offside.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini responded as you would expect, bringing on all three substitutes at once – what a huge compliment to Latics. Navas, Negredo and Toure were replaced bringing on Edin Dzeko, James Milner and David Silva.
Latics fans knew it was probably time to baton up the hatches because the level of intensity shown by the players would be difficult to sustain, especially with the introduction of fresh City legs. Milner immediately drove down the right, but failed to keep it in. Rosler brought on James McClean for McManaman.
Latics lived dangerously when Dzeko powerfully headed Cichy’s curling cross past Carson, only for it to bounce back off the base of the upright. Close but still no shot on target! Aguero did connect with Milner’s cross, but the effort was shot straight at Carson.
Josh McEachran was replaced by Roger Espinoza on 65 minutes to try and maintain energy levels byut still the blue tide came. Crainey denied Richards but from the resultant corner Nasri volleyed in from the edge of the box. 2-1. What would happen next in this amazing game?
Richards fired in from Aguero’s pull back – just wide, but Latics had a chance on the break, Fortune firing over when perhaps he should have released McClean on the left.
Boyce then pulled off an unbelievable tackle through Dzeko’s legs before Carson saved at full stretch from Aguero, before Dzeko headed narrowly wide.
As the fourth official indicated a minimum of five additional minutes at the end of the second-half, Fortune was presented with a glorious opportunity to seal the tie as he went one-on-one with Pantilimon but the Frenchman was denied on the angle by the Romanian stopper.
The giant keeper joined the City attack in the final minute of added time but Latics held firm and the heavy numbers of travelling support were sent into jubilation.