Sunday, 25 November 2012

Jordi Gomez Steps In to Save Wigan after Ali Al-Habsi Gaffe

HAT-TRICK hero Jordi Gomez got Ali Al-Habsi out of jail by netting a stoppage-time winner to seal this thriller for Wigan.


Al-Habsi thought he had coughed up two points when dropping a king-sized clanger to gift Reading their second.

Hal Robson-Kanu’s blocked shot flew up into the air and looked an easy catch for the keeper as it dropped back down to earth.

But Al-Habsi made a hash of holding the ball and saw it drop over the line despite his desperate attempt to claw it to safety.

That gaffe was looking costly until Gomez popped up at the death to convert an Arouna Kone cross and secure a 3-2 win over the Royals.

Gomez had already netted twice – first to cancel out Sean Morrison’s opener and then to edge the home side ahead.

Latics boss Roberto Martinez said: “Jordi had an unfair role in this game.

“After his first two or three passes, the crowd let him know they were unhappy with him.

“It is hard to play when that happens and he could have hid but that is not his character. He wanted to make a point, he did that and deserved his hat-trick.

“He showed for the ball and kept trying and got his reward.

“The crowd were too vocal against him and I hope they now realise the only thing Jordi wants is the best for Wigan.

“I hope they show him some warmth in future.

“It is not unusual for keepers to make mistakes but we are not used to seeing Ali do it – that was the surprise. But he made a good save moments before and it was good to see the players want to help him out by finding a winner.”

Scoring goals has been Wigan’s problem this term and it was noticeable that Latics tried to blow Reading away from the off. 

Jean Beausejour’s angled shot was fumbled by Adam Federici in their opening assault and the Chilean then clipped in a pinpoint cross which Kone nodded wide.

Having weathered the early storm, Reading started exerting some control but the reward they deserved was not forthcoming – because Adam Le Fondre kept fluffing chances.

He failed to get a decent contact on a corner and then nodded wide from Jobi McAnuff’s cross.

Not that Reading were having it all their own way.

They nearly went behind when Gomez slipped a pass into the run of Kone but the striker was impeded as he bundled his way past Federici and his final shot did not have the strength to beat Nicky Shorey on the line.

Left-back Shorey then set up Morrison’s 35rd-minute opener with a superbly-flighted free-kick which the centre-half headed past Al-Habsi at the far post.

Franco Di Santo came on at the break for Latics and was soon found by Gomez in front of goal.

The Argentina international aimed for the bottom corner but Federici was superb to bat the ball away.

Wigan did get their leveller in the 58th minute when Di Santo’s cross found Gomez who drilled the ball at Federici.

The keeper could not hold on and the Spaniard smashed in the rebound.

Reading thought they had won a penalty minutes later with Jay Tabb going down in the box as Maynor Figueroa stuck out a leg but referee Howard Webb decided against a spot-kick.

As panic set in at the back for Wigan, Le Fondre got his head to a cross and it needed a flying stop from Al-Habsi to deny him.

That save proved crucial as Latics suddenly stepped up a level to carve open the visitors. Beausejour’s cross was a hopeful one but Gomez hurled himself at the ball to nod in.

That should have been enough to seal the game on owner Dave Whelan’s 76th birthday but there was more drama to come.

First Al-Habsi made his embarrassing gaffe before Gomez grabbed the match ball with the last kick of the game.

Reading boss Brian McDermott said: “I thought we deserved a point and I thought we had got one.

“We you are drawing 2-2 in stoppage time and we have the ball in their half, you expect to see the game out.

“It’s a real sickener that it went against us at the end.”

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