Premier League - Resilient Wigan hold Liverpool

Wed, 21 Dec 21:43:00 2011

A superb performance in goal from Ali Al Habsi – including a penalty save – helped Wigan hold Liverpool to an atypically riveting 0-0 draw at the DW Stadium.

Wigan 0 Liverpool 0

Al Habsi made a string of vital saves before denying Charlie Adam from the spot six minutes into the second half after Latics skipper Gary Caldwell handled from Luis Suarez’s overhead kick.

Roberto Martinez’s men had chances of their own to snatch a vital three points through decent efforts from Victor Moses and substitute Hugo Rodallega, but in the end the draw was the fair result over 90 minutes.

Kenny Dalglish’s side remain in sixth with the stalemate, but Sunderland’s win at Queens Park Rangers means Wigan remain a point from safety despite picking up one of their own.

As expected, favourites Liverpool got off to a strong start and Wigan had Al Habsi to thank for keeping out Jordan Henderson in the ninth minute and Dirk Kuyt on 25.

Within a minute of the Dutch forward’s effort, Al Habsi pulled off his best save of the game in open play when denying a clean-through Glen Johnson from one of many fine Maxi Rodriguez through balls.

Following the half-hour mark, however, the home side began to match their opponents attack for attack and shot for shot, and Moses embarked on a cracking end-to-end run after dispossessing Johnson only for Pepe Reina to fist away his fierce shot.

Conor Sammon was on the verge of a one-on-one with the Spanish stopper five minutes before the interval thanks to a great ball into the danger zone from James McCarthy, only for Daniel Agger to recover with a vital sliding interception.

The ensuing corner from David Jones was back-flicked across goal at the near post by Antolin Alcaraz, with Caldwell inches away from prodding the ball over the line at the opposite upright.

And by the time Sammon’s first touch had let him down before he could shoot from close range from a clever Jordi Gomez assist, the Premier League goals tally stood at 19,999, meaning the Irish striker missed out on a place in the record books, an honour which eventually went to Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton.

The Reds began the second period as they had the first, and a stream of attacking pressure culminated with referee Michael Oliver pointing to the spot when Suarez, eligible to play while his eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra is suspended pending appeal, had an audacious overhead kick blocked by the hand of Caldwell.

But Al Habsi continued his unbreakable form between the sticks by guessing the right way to keep out Adam’s effort from 12 yards, before beating away the ensuing corner at full stretch with a one-handed save.

Moses and Kuyt had further close calls as the end-to-end ebb and flow of the contest returned, while Rodallega was inches wide at the far post from Moses’s deep cross from the right after replacing Sammon for the latter stages.

While the Latics need to start picking up wins, a point against top six opposition is a positive step – as is their first clean sheet in 14 Premier League outings.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

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