May 4, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
Wigan’s leaving it late this year, but as Saturday’s performance at The Hawthorns proved, there’s at least one more survival surge Roberto Martínez’s men. After strong performances against Manchester City and Tottenham failed to win full points, fueling doubts as to whether they could perform another great escape, the Latics have rebounded, pulling back two leads at West Brom on Saturday before Callum McManaman’s 80th minute winner gave them a dramatic 3-2 victory.
For much of the match, the back-and-forth affair looked set to clear up England’s relegation picture, with goals from Shane Long and Gareth McCauley giving West Brom two home leads. Yet playing to type, Wigan surged late, scoring the gam’es final two goals to secure full points.
The three points aren’t enough to get Martínez’s team out of 18th place, but they do pull Wigan within a number of targets the Latics can pass on their way to survival. With three games to play, Wigan have 35 points and a -22 goal difference. Sunderland, also having played 35 games, are only two points ahead and coming off a 6-1 trouncing at Aston Villa. Newcastle’s two points in four games leave them only three up on Wigan, having played an additional game. And after falling at home to Villa today, Norwich City is in the same boat as Newcastle: three points up; one fewer game to play.
Also in Wigan’s favor, should this come down to them and Newcastle or Norwich: The Latics would likely have a goal difference edge, should they pull themselves even with the Magpies and Canaries.
Today’s match didn’t present many edges for Martínez’s side, with Long putting Norwich up in the 29th minute. Arouna Koné quickly pulled the goal back, though, sending the sides into half tied at one. After half, a McCauley header gave West Brom their second lead, but between Jamie McArthur and McManaman, Wigan surged back, taking full value from their must-win match.
Had they drawn, Wigan would be four back of the 17th place, offsetting the advantage of their match-in-hand. But thanks to today’s win, that match-in-hand gives them a rout to survival. With a run-in of Swansea City, Arsenal (away), and Aston Villa, Wigan may be able to find enough points to pass one of their stumbling competitors.
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