Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic play out 2-2 draw
London: Tottenham kept their top-four hopes alive after snatching a late 2-2 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
A comical opener from Gareth Bale gave Spurs a ninth-minute lead but an instant reply from Emerson Boyce put the Latics on level terms just two minutes later.
The hosts were the dominant side from thereon in and a sensational strike from Callum McManaman early in the second half looked to have given them victory, until a late own goal from Boyce meant Andre Villas-Boas’s side left with a share of the spoils.
Roberto Martinez made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 to West Ham last weekend, with Jean Beausejour and James McArthur returning in place of Antolin Alcaraz and Gary Caldwell.
The visitors, meanwhile, brought Jermain Defoe and Tom Huddlestone back into the starting line-up, with Kyle Naughton also replacing Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Predictably, Bale was the first man to threaten as the Welshman headed wide two minutes in before a Huddlestone free kick crashed against the post shortly afterwards.
But with Bale proving such a constant threat, Spurs would not have to wait long for their opener – although the manner of the Welshman’s strike was in stark contrast to any of his 18 other league goals this season.
Maynor Figueroa and goalkeeper Joel were exchanging passes in their own box but as the Wigan stopper came under pressure from Bale, his attempted clearance went straight into the 23-year-old’s boot and into the back of the net.
Such a comical goal could have dented any team’s confidence but the Latics responded instantly as they won a corner straight up the other end, with Boyce then rising unmarked to head home his third of the season.
And it was the hosts who looked the likelier to score thereafter as Arouna Kone clipped a shot from distance just over the bar on 24 minutes.
Despite late pressure from Bale and Defoe, though, it would remain 1-1 at the break, while Mousa Dembele’s afternoon was cut short on the stroke of half-time as the injured Belgian made way for Lewis Holtby.
But upon the resumption, McManaman ensured Wigan would pick up where they left off before the break in breath-taking fashion. Latching onto a loose ball on the edge of the area, the 21-year-old took the ball away from Naughton and smashed a thunderous half-volley into the top corner and past a helpless Hugo Lloris.
It was a fantastic strike and the lead it gave Wigan was no less than Martinez’s men deserved. The home side’s next move was easy to guess: they brought on another defender and an extended period of resolute defending followed.
But the hosts could only hold on for so long and, from a set-piece late on, Boyce turned from hero to villain with a late touch that sent the ball into his own net - keeping Spurs’ Champions League hopes alive and compounding Wigan’s relegation worries.