Premier League - Everton deny Wigan victory

Sat, 30 Apr 16:55:00 2011

Wigan were denied two crucial points in the fight against relegation from the Premier League as Everton came from behind to draw 1-1 at the DW Stadium.

Match Highlights: Wigan 1

Charles N'Zogbia struck a sublime opening goal in the first half before having to go off injured in the second period.

Everton won a penalty before the break, missed by Mikel Arteta, and when a second spot-kick was awarded 13 minutes from time with the Spaniard off the pitch, Leighton Baines smashed it into the top corner.

Everton had keeper Tim Howard to thank for several excellent saves as Wigan went for the win. The home side remain in the drop zone, level on points with Blackpool following their goalless draw with Stoke.

Wigan, who welcomed back Maynor Figueroa following a suspension, started strongly but were unable to prise apart a tight Everton defence with their passing play.

Star winger N'Zogbia was furious when the linesman judged that he had not kept the ball in play on the right when bearing into the penalty area, and with justification for the ball was on the line when he reached it.

Four minutes later, on 21, the Frenchman produced his moment of magic. James McCarthy chipped a little ball through but he was unable to take it on; turned away from goal with Howard committed, he spun and sent an inch-perfect curling strike inside the far post halfway up.

Soon after Leon Osman forced Ali Al Habsi to turn over the bar at the other end as Everton got back into the game. And on 35 minutes they had the perfect opportunity to do so.

A Baines short corner was played to Leon Osman, arriving inside the corner of the box, and N'Zogbia arrived too quickly to upend the winger. However there seemed to be little contact. Up stepped Arteta - and his firm kick was tipped around the post by athletic keeper Al Habsi.

Mohamed Diame was forced off with an injury picked up while fouling Jack Rodwell, a challenge which earned him a yellow card.

The first of Howard's top-drawer saves came after injury-time was up at the end of the first half, the keeper deflecting away Hugo Rodallega's low, hard shot with his chest.

On the hour mark, following the departure of N'Zogbia - hurt late in the first half in a 50-50 with Baines - his replacement Victor Moses tested Howard with a strike to the near post. Then two minutes further on, the forward shot first-time after Emmerson Boyce had kept the ball alive, only to see the American tip over.

Wigan keeper Al Habsi fumbled a low Osman shot into the path of Tim Cahill but recovered in time to claim and a minute later the Australian found himself substituted alongside Arteta, with Seamus Coleman and Jermaine Beckford coming on.

The away defence blocked three quick shots as Wigan began to believe they could score a second goal, Moses and McCarthy the men trying their luck from 18 yards. Everton withstood the pressure and began to exert their own with 15 minutes remaining as Wigan became nervous.

The deadlock was broken when Rodallega leapt to head a corner clear but for some reason handled the ball around waist height. There was no disputing the penalty award.

Baines was not about to give Al Habsi a chance to save this one, sending a piledriver into the top corner.

With four minutes left Rodallega, keen to make amends, forced a save from Howard with a rasping drive. Substitute Franco Di Santo then half-connected with a volley as Howard again came out to claim.

A minute later the keeper was again faced with a sharp Rodallega strike as the striker cut inside from the left, but it was straight at the American and he saved then collected at the second attempt.

Watson was the latest home player to try his luck, Howard only able the palm to ball back out towards the onrushing attackers, but Di Santo was flagged offside and could not capitalise on the chance anyway.

Rodallega controlled from Di Santo but could only find the side-netting and he was to have one more chance as injury-time came to a close.

With Wigan throwing players at the win and Everton defenders laying down their health to prevent them from getting a shot in, the ball fell to the Colombian - but he could only fizz his shot high and wide.

The point could well be crucial for Wigan come the end of the season - but they will view it as two lost despite Everton's penalty miss.

Jonathan Symcox / Eurosport

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