Date: 18th October 2008 at 9:35pm
Written by: Baskerville

Latics were left to rue Antonio Valencia’s second sending off within a week , which enabled Liverpool to continue their unbeaten run to their season by scoring two late goals.

Latics were forced to replace Emile Heskey due to an injury sustained on internationalm duty. Steve Bruce switching to a 451 line up with Valencia supporting the lone striker Zaki with De Ridder making a rare start on the right wing.

Latics started of in positive fashion with De Ridder making a searching run but after being closed down the ball wall passed around on he edge of the penalty area until it fell to Cattermoel who was unable to keep his shot down and hlaed over the bar.

Latics looked comfortable in the first ten minutes and won a coupkle of corners but poor delivery resuklted in easy clearences for Liverpool. At the back the biggest threat int he early stages came from poor back passes from Scharner who didnt have his best game in a Latics’ shirt.

Latics showed that they nwere no respector of Liverpool’s exalted reputation and continued to play skilljul attavking footbsll which only lacvked the conviction of shot on target. This changed when Kapo broke down the left and fired a shot which was beaten out by Reina but Latics were unable to pounce on the rebound.

For livepool a half chance for Robbie Keane was their best effort as the Latics team continued to harry the home team when defending with Cattermole and Palacios outstanding.

Latics luck changed on the half hour mark. Agger was too casual on the ball and Zaki nipped in to take the ball and slot it past Reina sending the travelling Latics fans( including yours truly into absolute delerium). Zaki after scoring sprinted the full length of the pitch to celebrate with his adoring fans.

Latics as expected were then pressurised by Liverpool and were level when Liverpool broke down the left, beating De Ridder and Melchiot and crossed for Kuyt to slot the ball past Kirkland.

Liverpool could have taken the lead when a superb shot from Kuyt which was miracuosly tipped onto the bar by Kirkland.

Half time was approaching and fans were going onto the concourse expecting the scorline to remian the same but Valencia had other ideas. He seemed to be trapped by the corner flag by two defenders. Valencia had other ideas and somehow beat the players and crossed for Zaki to score a contender for goal of the season with an overhead scissors kick one again causing mass hysteria amongst the Latics fans.

The ralk at half time was whether Latics could withstand the inevitable onslaught that would follow the break. The onslaught did come and Latics were tima and agan ont he abck foot but defended well and with Kirkland in imperious form looked to be holding out. Latics looked sharp on the break and Zaki was denied his hat trick by a powerful shot being blocked by a Liverpool player’s lower abdomen!

Mr Wiley didn’t have a difficult game to referee but caused problems with a great deal of jostling at a Liverpool free kick which seemd to go on forever without the referee taking control. The ball eventually seemed to be played Valencia rushed outand was booked for encroaching which was farcical.

Liverpool continued to pour forwards and Latics were forced itno some last ditch defending which seemed to be workign when Mr Wiley turned the game with another over officious decision A sliding challenge from Valencia appeared to win the ball but Mr Wiley rushed over and brandished a second yellow for the Ecudorean.
On a wet pitch which resulted in several sliding tackles this wasn’t the worst of the afternoon by far and the tackle by Dossena which earned the defender a yellow was a lunge with the studs showing and should have been rewarded with a straight red card.

Mr Wiley’s over officious referring had left Wigan to try and hold back the Liverpool onslaught with ten men.
Bruce opted to replace De Ridder with the more defensive Kilbane. WIthin a minute Liverpool had equalised,Riera scoring with a shot which left Kirkland with no chance.

Liverpool pressed forward and snatched the winner from a tiring Wigan side with Kuyt mis hitting a volley which tipped it over Kirkland’s out stretched hands into the net

Latics pushed forward looking for a late equiliser but it wasn’t to be and the Latics faithful were left to rue on poor referring decisions which result in no points for the second game in succession.

Reina, Arbeloa (Benayoun 79), Carragher, Agger, Dossena (El Zhar 78),
Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Riera,
Keane (Hyypia 90), Kuyt.
Unused Subs Cavalieri, Leiva Lucas, Insua, Ngog.

Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa,
Valencia, Cattermole, Palacios (Koumas 90), Kapo (Brown 82), De Ridder (Kilbane 79),
Unused Subs
Pollitt, Taylor, Boyce, Camara.

Sent Off: Valencia (75).

Booked: Valencia.

Ref: Alan Wiley

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland…8/10
Couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals and a wonderful save int he first hald

Mario Melchiot…6/10
Not his best game and was caught for pace on several occasions

Maynor Figueroa…6.5/10
Works hard but naive at times

Titius Bramble…8/10
An immense presence at the back

Paul Scharner…5/10
A poor performance today, doesn’t seem to gel well with Bramble

Daniel De Ridder..7/10
Looked good going forward but needs to make that final pass

Lee Cattermole…7.5/10
A tremendous hard working performance

Wilson Palacious…8/10
Ran the show in midfield

Antonio Valencia…8.5/10
Terribly unlucky to be sent off for the second time in a week. A creative genius

Olivier Kapo…6.5/10
One great shot but not involved enough in the game

Am r Zaki…10/10
First time I have awarded a ten but he deserves it. Gave Jamie Carragher a torrid time despite suffering throughout the game with a calf injury.

We need to sign him now and re-name the JJB stadium the Zaki stadium

Not on the pitch long enough to have an effect

Not on the pitch long enough to have an effect
Not on the pitch long enough to have an effect

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…9/10

Picked the team to do the job but unfortuasntely he hadn’t reckoned on Mr Wiley

The Referee
A Wiley…2/10
Not a difficult game to manage but he was disappointing.Only three cards in the afternoon , one should have been a red and two yellows to Valencia were unjustified. Cost Wigan a deserved share of the points