Following last night’s 1-1 draw with FC Rubin Kazan at the Wigan Athletic Stadium, Latics held on to second place in the group going into the return fixture in Russia, something which loanee defender Ryan Shotton believes will be crucial when it comes down to earning qualification for the next round.
The 24-year-old said:
“Looking at the way we went in at half time we’d be satisfied with the result, but over the 90 minutes we think we should have taken all three points.
“At the start of the game you would say a point against such an experienced European side would be a good result, it puts us in a healthy position in the group and we’ve got a chance to push on now.
“If we can stop them when we go to Russia then it opens doors for us with two games remaining against Maribor and Zulte Waregem.”
In Rubin Kazan, Latics faced a side that have featured in the Europa League in each of the last five seasons, and one which had scored nine goals in their previous two group games.
Shotton believes the way in which Latics extinguished the Russian threat was one of the major positives on the night.
“They’ve got Champions League pedigree and they got into the quarter finals of the Europa League against Chelsea last season so we knew what we were coming up against.
“We showed a strong defensive unity as a whole team and we’re happy that Scott didn’t have many saves to make.
“Scott’s (Carson) been great for us this season and he only had one save to make in the match which came in the last few minutes, he probably wouldn’t count it as a save after some of the stops he pulled off at the weekend against Blackpool.”
With just minutes of stoppage time remaining, Marc-Antoine Fortune came close to firing in a second for Latics, but for a tremendous save from Sergei Ryzhikov preventing the celebrations, as Shotton added:
“It was an unbelievable save from Marco’s shot at the end, I was running off ready to celebrate and thinking we’d won the game.
“I was running off ready to celebrate a win and somehow he kept the ball out.
“We were gutted it hadn’t gone in really because we thought we deserved to win the game.”
Once again the matches don’t stop there for Latics and on Sunday it’s back to Championship action against 19th place Charlton Athletic, a team that Shotton says Latics will need to be fresh for.
“We have to make sure we add to this Europa League result with a win on Sunday because we need to start making ground in the Championship.
“The game on Sunday is just a case of hitting the ground running and making sure that we keep up the tempo we’ve been building.
“We’ve got to keep going and pushing on and we don’t seem to be falling away in our level of performances after Europa League games, if anything it’s helping us.
“The lads will freshen up over the next few days and I’m sure there will be players who’ve been on the bench who’ll be raring to go.”