Wigan Athletic pulled a major upset by beating Manchester City 1-0 in the English FA Cup final in London.
LONDON — Wigan Athletic players lifted a major trophy for the first time in the soccer team’s 81-year history.
In one of the biggest English FA Cup final upsets, a team playing nonleague soccer 35 years ago and assembled for barely $30 million beat big-spending Manchester City 1-0 Saturday at Wembley Stadium.
Winning England’s showpiece match was not only a reward for Wigan owner Dave Whelan’s investment in the small northern club, but completed his unfinished business from the 1960 final.
After breaking a leg playing for Blackburn at the old Wembley, Whelan’s career ended at the age of 23 and he started amassing the wealth that enabled him to finance Wigan.
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“The dream has come true,” Whelan said. “I’m repaid for 1960, when I broke my leg and we lost the match.”
The match was drifting into extra time — and City defender Pablo Zabaleta had just been sent off — when substitute Ben Watson planted a header from Shaun Maloney’s corner into the net in the 90th minute.
Watson recently returned to action after recovering from a broken leg.
“It’s been a long six months for myself and it’s been a dream — coming on in an FA Cup final and scoring the winner,” Watson said.
Wigan will try to avoid the dubious distinction of being the first FA Cup winner to be relegated in the same season. The bottom three teams in the Premier League are relegated to the second-tier League Championship — and Wigan is 18th of 20 teams with two league matches left.
“We’ve got two massive games now to stay in the league, and if we perform like (Saturday) we’ll be all right,” Watson said.
City is ending the season without a major trophy despite having the most expensively assembled squad in England, with more than $1 billion invested by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan since 2008.