McManaman tackle enrages Newcastle as Wigan bag win
WIGAN striker Callum McManaman’s horror tackle overshadowed a controversial but crucial 90th-minute Arouna Kone winner for Roberto Martinez’s relegation-threatened side.
The Latics forward, on his first Premier League start, caused outrage with a reckless knee-high challenge on substitute Massadio Haidara.
He escaped punishment but referee Mark Halsey sent off furious Newcastle assistant manager John Carver – who twice had to be restrained as he tried to confront McManaman at the end of the first-half – and Wigan coach Graham Barrow in an unseemly fracas.
Newcastle have already had problems with their touchline behaviour this season and manager Alan Pardew was banned for two matches for pushing assistant referee Peter Kirkup. More FA action is almost certain to follow.
The incident adversely affected the game as, from the moment Haidara was carried off on a stretcher, the mood changed significantly.
Jean Beasejour’s first-half goal had been cancelled by Davide Santon with 18 minutes to go only for Kone to snatch a vital close-range goal in a goalmouth scramble in which the ball appeared to come off team-mate Maynor Figueroa’s hand.
Pardew said: “I’m disappointed for our team and for Wigan in a way, disappointing how it was conducted. The tackle was awful, and we’ve lost the game in the last minute to what I think is a handball, and also got a boy going to hospital. In all honesty it’s difficult to take and difficult to talk about at this stage.”
At Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard revelled in a glorious day after scoring his 200th Chelsea goal as the Blues climbed to third place in the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 defeat of his former club West Ham.
On his 595th Chelsea appearance, Lampard headed in an Eden Hazard cross after 19 minutes to move within two of Bobby Tambling’s club record of 202 goals. The impressive Hazard netted a second after 50 minutes as Chelsea moved a point above Tottenham, with a game in hand, in the race for a Champions League qualifying place.
“It is one of my best days,” Lampard said. “Obviously, winning the Champions League and championships are the best, but personally getting 200 goals for the club, I never thought I would touch that so I am pleased to get it.”
Lampard, who joined Chelsea from West Ham for £11 million in 2001, celebrated his 12th league goal of the season in front of the away end and with John Terry, who was warming up as a substitute, with the visiting support expressing their displeasure by hurling objects the duo’s way.
The Metropolitan Police later confirmed they were investigating incidents of coin throwing but that no arrests had been made.
Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez absolved Lampard of blame for celebrating in front of the visiting fans and was uncertain if any of his players had been hit by objects. “When you score 200 goals you don’t think too much about where you go,” Benitez said. “You celebrate and, afterwards, we realised he would’ve been better to be in another part.”
Benitez confirmed fourth official Howard Webb had advised the Chelsea substitutes to warm up at the other end after the goal.
Meanwhile, Martin Jol hailed Dimitar Berbatov as the Fulham striker lived up to his promise to shoot down former club Tottenham. Spurs’ hopes of Champions League qualification took a big blow as they lost 1-0 to the Cottagers thanks to Berbatov’s second-half poke past Hugo Lloris.
The 52nd-minute strike was not one of the finest of his career, but it did not matter for Berbatov or Jol, who tasted victory over the club he used to manage for the first time since leaving White Hart Lane in acrimony six years ago.
Berbatov has now racked up ten goals for Jol this season and he was so confident that he would secure a win that he told his manager he would do before the match. Jol said: “I thought he was joking. But he said it before the match against Stoke [where he scored the winner] and he is a wonderful player. It was one of the best wins ever.”
Jol admits Berbatov is a unique character who needs to be carefully managed, but the Dutchman maintains that the 32-year-old is still one of the best hitmen in the league. “He’s a remarkable boy,” the 57-year-old said. “He’s a different personality, but he’s said it twice now. Against Stoke before the match and he said it again today. The only thing he wants is a day off if he scores. He looks like he’s sulking and sometimes his body language is not great but you know that he can decide games for you.”
At the bottom end of the table, Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has warned his beleaguered players it will not get any easier as they attempt to avoid a fight for top-flight survival. His side were only able to take a point from Norwich, who played for more than an hour at the Stadium of Light with only ten men, as the Black Cats failed to end their search for a first league victory in seven attempts.
O’Neill said: “We had an opportunity there to go and try to get three points. It’s difficult – it’s been difficult all season for us. But we have games still to play, tough matches, every one of them. But the whole league has been tough for us.”
O’Neill’s frustration was all the more acute as his side enjoyed the benefit of three key decisions by referee Chris Foy, two of which were correct and the third more dubious. Norwich took the lead with 26 minutes gone when Wes Hoolahan headed home from close range after Kei Kamara had helped Robert Snodgrass’ corner towards goal.
However, the Canaries were dealt a blow within three minutes when keeper Mark Bunn was sent off for handling outside his box as he blocked Danny Graham’s effort. Sunderland levelled five minutes before the break after Sebastien Bassong was adjudged to have blocked John O’Shea’s pass with his arm and Craig Gardner blasted home the penalty.
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