Wigan match-winner Grigg: I didn't think we can beat Man City
Wigan match-winner says victory over City down to 'unbelievable performance'
The magic of football's oldest competition continued yesterday morning (Singapore time), as third-tier side Wigan Athletic stunned the English Premier League's runaway leaders Manchester City 1-0 in the FA Cup fifth round.
Such was the gulf in quality and resources between the two teams, that Wigan manager Paul Cook had joked before the game that he would be asking for special dispensation to field 14 players.
But Pep Guardiola's team clearly did not heed the warning dished out just a day earlier by another third-division outfit Rochdale, who snatched a last-gasp 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur to force a replay.
In the end, against a multi-millionaire City side reduced to 10 men for the entire second half, Cook needed only 11 to pull off one of the greatest nights in the club's Cup history, reported Reuters.
For that he had to thank Northern Irish talisman Will Grigg, who seized his chance and fired in the 79th-minute winner.
The goal was his seventh in this season's competition, more than any other player, and ended City's hopes of an unprecedented league and cup Quadruple.
"I'm scoring every week now, so it's nice and easy," Grigg joked afterwards when told how calm he had seemed.
He was also quoted as saying in The Mail: "It was an unbelievable performance from the lads.
"City are one of the best teams in the world... To be honest, I probably didn't think it was possible for us to beat them.
"The gaffer and the staff put a plan together and the lads executed it. Every player was outstanding. The FA Cup has been brilliant to me and this was the best of the lot."
A cult hero at the DW Stadium, Grigg also scored a double in the fourth round when Wigan pulled off a shock of 2-0 win over EPL side West Ham United.
Wigan, who also beat EPL outfit Bournemouth in a third-round replay, with Grigg scoring in the initial 2-2 draw, face Southampton in the quarter-finals next month.
The BBC, using figures from research group CIES Football Observatory, reported that City have the most expensive squad in football, and fielded a starting XI that is valued at £349 million (S$643.5m).
In contrast, Wigan's starting line-up featured eight players acquired via free transfers, with Grigg their costliest player at £1.3m.
The Latics also won the game with just 17.5 per cent possession.
Former England striker Alan Shearer paid tribute to the gutsy winners.
He said on BBC: "Magnificent from Wigan. The effort, the commitment, the last-ditch efforts to block shots.
"City dominated possession, but rarely challenged the goalkeeper. What an unbelievable performance and result."
But the match was also marred by ugly scenes after the final whistle.
Wigan supporters invaded the pitch to celebrate at the end of the tie and City striker Sergio Aguero, who was shaking the hand of opposing defender Chey Dunkley at the time, became embroiled in an ugly altercation with a number of fans, reported AFP.
Aguero was forced to defend himself as the scene threatened to turn even more violent and City staff had to help shepherd him off the field and to the safety of the dressing room.
"It's not right," said Cook.
"I haven't seen the incident, so I can't comment. But players' safety has to be paramount for everyone."
City are expected to contact Wigan themselves to demand answers about the lack of protection offered to their players at the end, although FA action may well take that out of their hands.
The trouble was not over there as a number of home fans taunted the City support and, in response, the visitors began to tear at advertising hoardings in front of them.
Police became involved in scuffles with City supporters that continued for several minutes and the FA is certain to review footage, and read referee Anthony Taylor's report, before contacting the two clubs and deciding whether to issue charges.