As blue-and-white confetti exploded under the Wembley arch, Wigan players lifted a trophy for the first time in the club’s 81-year history.
In one of the biggest FA Cup final upsets, a team playing non-league football 35 years ago and assembled for barely $30 million beat big-spending Manchester City, 1-0, on Saturday in London.
Winning English football’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 ultimately finance Wigan.
Saturday’s game 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 had only just 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.
●SPAIN: Barcelona collected its 22nd Spanish league trophy after Real Madrid played to a 1-1 draw at Espanyol.
Barcelona wrapped up a title that had been a foregone conclusion for months. Real Madrid’s draw gave Barca a seven-point lead in the standings.
It’s Barca’s the fourth domestic title in five seasons, and it comes at a time when some cracks are starting to show.
Barcelona was recently thrashed by a combined 7-0 score by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals.
●ENGLAND: Frank Lampard scored twice to set Chelsea’s career scoring record as the Blues rallied to a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa that pushed the club closer to a berth in next season’s Champions League.
Christian Benteke put Villa ahead in the 14th minute. Lampard beat American goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a curling shot in the 61st minute and scored from close range in the 88th.
Jack McInerney scored his league-leading seventh goal of the season and Zac MacMath (Maryland) made six saves to lead the Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 victory over the host Chicago Fire. McInerney took a 35-yard pass from substitute Sebastien Le Toux in the 75th minute, danced around defender Jalil Anibaba and slipped the ball by diving goalkeeper Sean Johnson. . . .
Lamar Neagle scored twice and Mauro Rosales added a goal and an assist to help lead the Seattle Sounders FC to a 4-0 win over the visiting San Jose Earthquakes. . . .
Matteo Ferrari scored in extra time to give the host Montreal Impact a 3-2 victory against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Ferrari’s own goal in the first half gave RSL a 1-0 lead.