LONDON — Wigan won the FA Cup for the first time in its 81-year history, beating big-spending Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday night in one of the biggest final upsets the tournament has seen.
Ben Watson scored on a header off Shaun Maloney’s corner kick in the 90th minute at Wembley Stadium, six minutes after City defender Pablo Zabaleta was given a red card.
“The boys were fantastic and they deserve it,” Watson told the BBC. “To come on and score the winner in the FA Cup final is a dream.”
Wigan, based near Manchester, put together its roster for less than $30 million, while City’s cost more than 10 times than amount.
But season still could end on a low for Wigan, which is 18th in the Premier League at 9-19-8 with two games left. Wigan faces relegation to the second-tier League Championship next season unless it can climb in the standings.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s some achievement for everyone in the club,” Wigan midfielder James McCarthy said. “Now it’s down to the league. It’s a massive week for the club. We have to put on a massive show for the rest of the season.”
Wigan was led out onto the field by chairman Dave Whelan, whose playing career ended at old Wembley stadium when he broke a leg while playing for Blackburn in the 1960 final.
“Today it was David and Goliath,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said. “It was following a dream. … We saw the underdogs play with incredible bravery, incredible belief, and they defied the odds again. That’s the FA Cup.”
For City, the loss could intensify the turmoil threatening to engulf the club as it wasted the last chance to end the season with a trophy. The team has not denied a report that Malaga’s Manuel Pellegrini has been approached to replace Roberto Mancini as manager.
Mancini helped end a 35-year trophy drought when City won the 2011 FA Cup, and the club won the Premier League last year.
City fans made their feeling clear toward the club’s Abu Dhabi hierarchy, chanting in support of Mancini from the start and bellowing abuse about Pellegrini.
Wigan became the second history-maker this season at Wembley. Swansea won its first major trophy when it beat Bradford in the League Cup final in February.
Zabaleta became just the third player ejected from an FA Cup final when he was shown a second yellow card for fouling Callum McManaman. Manchester United’s Kevin Moran was given a red card for fouling Everton’s Peter Reid.