It was expected to be a regular Wednesday night, but then struggling Wigan had other plans as they breathed life into the English Premier League title race with a stunning 1-0 upset of Manchester United. United’s first defeat in the league since January provided a lifeline to Manchester City and they promptly took it, cutting the Red Devils’ lead at the top to five points with a convincing 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Just days after United looked to have wrapped up a 20th league crown by opening up an eight-point lead over City, Shaun Maloney's 50th-minute winner for Wigan suggested the title race might yet have more twists in store. City's emphatic win over West Brom reduced United's lead at the top to five points with five games remaining, meaning Sir Alex Ferguson's side have little margin for error in their remaining fixtures.
"It was a disappointing night for us. We were second to every ball in the first half and we were completely dominated by Wigan," Ferguson said. "It was one of those off nights that you sometimes get in football. " The United manager was also critical of referee Phil Dowd but added: "That doesn't take away from the fact that Wigan were the better team and deserved to win."
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez hailed a "historic" result after Wigan's first EPL win over United. "In our history, we've never taken a point from United and we restricted them to one shot on target. The players deserve a huge amount of credit. It shows how well they have been working. It's a historic day for us," Martinez said.
Manchester City's strikers David Silva , Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez celebrate during the EPL football match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at The Etihad stadium in Manchester. Pic/AFP
Meanwhile, City 4-0 thrashing of West Brom included a goal for returning bad boy Carlos Tevez. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for City after only six minutes, sweeping in past Ben Foster after evading the attentions of Keith Andrews. Aguero then grabbed his second shortly after halftime, applying the finishing touch after neat inter-play between David Silva and Samir Nasri.
Tevez then made it 3-0 from Aguero's cut back on 61 minutes and City then piled on the misery for the Baggies as Silva added a fourth three minutes later. But City manager Roberto Mancini played down his side's chances of overhauling United, insisting the title race was over. "The title race is finished because United is a fantastic team and they have a fantastic spirit. I think five points is too much," Mancini said.
Arsenal beat Wolverhampton
Elsewhere, Arsenal tightened their grip on third place and an automatic Champions League qualifying place with a 3-0 win over bottom club 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. Arsenal have taken a five-point lead over fourth-placed Tottenham as Wolves slumped to a seventh straight defeat that leaves them nine points from safety. At the other end of the table, Queens Park Rangers boosted their hopes of Premier League survival with an emphatic 3-0 win over Swansea at Loftus Road.
QPR took the lead on the stroke of halftime through captain Joey Barton, the midfielder lashing home from the edge of the area after Swansea failed to deal with a free-kick swung in from the right. Rangers took a stranglehold 10 minutes into the second half through Jamie Mackie, the Scottish international's deflected shot wrong-footing Michael Vorm to make it 2-0. A 25-metre thunderbolt from Hungarian international Akos Buzsaky made it 3-0 on 67 minutes to seal a win which moved Mark Hughes' side two points clear of the relegation zone.