Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Wigan 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool intensified their fight with the Football Association at the DW Stadium but the more immediate target escaped unharmed. While Kenny Dalglish and his players rallied around Luis Suárez in the wake of his eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, potentially landing themselves in further trouble with the authorities in the process, they missed the chance to draw level with Chelsea as Wigan Athletic became the latest beneficiaries of their profligacy.

With or without Suárez, Liverpool’s prospects of securing Champions League qualification this season appear increasingly dependent on finding a cutting edge within themselves or in the January transfer window. Charlie Adam failed to convert a second-half penalty as Wigan secured a second successive creditable home draw that will enhance their hopes of securing Premier League survival.

Liverpool players showed their solidarity with Suárez and defiance of the guilty verdict reached by an independent commission, the only body to conduct a thorough review of the case, in word and deed before the kick-off. Having issued a statement denying their team-mate is a racist, the Liverpool squad took to the field dressed in ‘Suárez 7′ T-shirts for the warm-up while Dalglish wore one for his pre-match television interview. But this was not Robbie Fowler demonstrating welcome support for sacked Liverpool dockers. This was a high-profile international found guilty of racist abuse 24 hours earlier and, raging with a sense of injustice or not, as Liverpool clearly are, they were inappropriate gestures at this stage of an already damaging saga.

The professional response from Liverpool was to channel the siege mentality that Dalglish has fostered into the excellent form that had brought four wins in their last five away games. To their credit, they did so, taking the contest to Wigan from the start of what developed into an open, entertaining affair, with Suárez displaying no sign of being weighed down by the controversy and the ban that surrounds him.

Liverpool clicked into the form that overwhelmed Aston Villa on Sunday from the first whistle whereas it took Wigan 15 nervous minutes to rediscover the composure and threat that earned a deserved draw at home to Chelsea on Saturday. Suárez, inevitably jeered throughout by the home fans and lauded from the away end, took an immediate blow to the back of the head from Gary Caldwell but recovered to lead a dominant Liverpool opening.

Adam struck an inviting free-kick straight into the Wigan wall when he should have tested goalkeeper Ali al-Habsi, who then saved well from the improving Jordan Henderson and Dirk Kuyt when they met crosses from the right and left respectively from Stewart Downing.

Wigan’s defence was hanging on at that stage but Roberto Martínez’s side then began to pick gaps in their opponents’ rearguard. Victor Moses went down under a nothing challenge from Martin Skrtel inside the area but referee Michael Oliver rightly adjudged the winger to have slipped. Jordi Gómez missed a great opportunity to continue his rich goalscoring form when he shot straight at José Reina from close range and Mohamed Diamé’s shot from distance flashed inches wide.

A superb run from Moses beyond Adam, Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger ended with another Reina save, Diamé went close once more and Skrtel made a vital interception at full stretch to prevent Conor Sammon seizing on Gómez’s flick over the top.

The clearest chance of an end-to-end first half, however, fell Liverpool’s way when Johnson exchanged passes with Maxi Rodríguez on the edge of the area. The England right-back had plenty of the Wigan goal to aim for but shot straight at Habsi.

The Oman international keeper continued to frustrate Liverpool after the interval. Suárez sent a 20 yard free-kick arching towards the top corner only for Habsi to tip over and was then inevitably the source of what should have been the breakthrough for the visitors.

From Henderson’s touch back across the penalty area, Suárez threw himself into an overhead kick that clearly struck the outstretched arm of Caldwell. Referee Oliver had no hesitation in penalising the Wigan captain. Adam stepped up to drive a powerful spot-kick to the keeper’s left but Habsi read the Scotland international’s intentions perfectly and pushed the penalty away.

A familiar tale was unfolding before an increasingly annoyed Dalglish, who was again left with head in hands when Kuyt scuffed his volley over the Wigan crossbar having been picked out unmarked from Adam’s floated free-kick into the area. Hugo Rodallega and Moses then missed good openings to win it for Wigan at the death.

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