Latics thwarted in thriller
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Wigan and Tottenham played out an exhilarating 3-3 draw at The JJB Stadium.
Wigan and Tottenham played out an exhilarating 3-3 draw at The JJB Stadium to inch towards Premiership survival and European qualification respectively.
A scrappy Emile Heskey goal inside the opening minute set the tone for a magnificent first half, and there was further drama in the second period as Tottenham came from behind three times.
Dimitar Berbatov grabbed the first equaliser, before a stunning Leighton Baines strike and Robbie Keane penalty left it 2-2 at half-time.
Kevin Kilbane headed The Latics back in front, but Keane drew Tottenham level again midway through the second half.
Phil Ifill made a rare start for Tottenham but may have perhaps wished he had been left on the substitutes' bench after his poor clearance led to Wigan breaking the deadlock after just 55 seconds.
Ifill and Ricardo Rocha both failed to get any distance on their headers as a Matt Jackson free-kick sparked a penalty area scramble that most school teams would have been embarrassed to play a part in, until Heskey headed home from close range.
If Heskey's goal was beastly Tottenham's reply was beautiful in its construction and execution, as Keane set up Berbatov for a classy finish after four minutes.
Keane jinked past two Wigan defenders on the edge of the box before playing in Berbatov, and the Bulgarian flicked the ball low past John Filan with the outside of his foot after effortlessly gliding round Emmerson Boyce
Rocha had to race back to tackle Henri Camara as Wigan looked to restore their advantage immediately, and there was no let-up in the action as play flowed from end to end.
Berbatov beat the offside trap after 20 minutes and held the ball up waiting for support, but the chance was wasted as Keane sliced a shot straight at Arjan De Zeeuw.
Baines conjured a goal out of the blue on the half hour mark as, 25 yards out wide on the left, he sent a volley spinning over the head of Paul Robinson and into the top right corner.
This time Wigan managed to hold their lead for just five minutes, as Jermaine Jenas showed impressive pace to latch onto Keane's pass and a push from Baines, combined with a slight trip from Filan, sent the midfielder tumbling in the area.
Referee Graham Poll had no hesitation in awarding the penalty and showed Filan a yellow card. Keane stepped up to take the spot-kick and coolly wrong-footed the keeper.
Wigan could have been back in front on the stroke of half-time as Kilbane headed over an open goal after Paul Scharner had glanced Boyce's delivery towards the bottom corner and forced a brilliant save out of Robinson.
Both sides continued to set a relentless tempo as the second half got underway, and the crowd became so caught up in the game that they even forgot on one or two occasions to boo former Wigan full-back Pascal Chimbonda, who had been jeered mercilessly in the first 45 minutes.
Robinson made a sprawling save to deny Denny Landzaat from distance and then got his fingertips to an effort from Scharner to deflect the ball onto the crossbar.
Tottenham, fresh from bowing out of the Uefa Cup on Thursday, began to feel the heat first as they were penned into their own half, and were lucky to stay on level terms when Scharner blazed wide from a narrow angle on the left.
Wigan were rewarded for a sustained spell of pressure after 60 minutes as Kilbane got in front of Didier Zokora to powerfully head in Taylor's excellent corner.
Steed Malbranque came on for Teemu Tainio as Spurs rallied once again, and Filan was called into action to parry away Jenas' curling free-kick from 20 yards.
A third equaliser of the afternoon arrived after 68 minutes as Keane seized on a misjudgement by Jackson and lifted a shot over Filan from 25 yards.
Tottenham started to take control in the closing stages and would almost certainly have taken the lead for the first time if Jermain Defoe had picked out Berbatov rather than Filan after being released down the right.
Filan also had to save from Chimbonda as Wigan held on nervously for a point that lifts them above Fulham in the battle to avoid the drop.
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|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Tottenham Hotspur|
|2||1st Half Goals||2|
|6||Shots on Target||6|
|10||Shots off Target||3|