Video: Stoke City 2 Wigan Athletic 2 - Figueroa scores 'best goal ever'
Published 14/12/2009 | 00:00
Wigan's Maynor Figueroa scored one of the goals the season, beating Stoke City's Thomas Sorensen from 60 yards out.
The Danish goalkeeper perversely proved less fallible from 12 yards when he stopped Hugo Rodallega's last-minute penalty to ensure a point for Stoke.
For Figueroa, the opportunity to add his name to those of David Beckham and Xabi Alonso as players who have scored Premier League goals from their own half came with the teams tied at 1-1 in the 72nd minute of a feisty encounter.
There seemed scant danger to Stoke when Robert Huth cut down substitute Scott Sinclair two yards inside Wigan's half. Figueroa, however, spotted Sorensen off his line and with barely a second's contemplation, ran up, took aim and dispatched the free-kick from Wigan's left flank diagonally over the flailing hand of the furiously back-pedalling goalkeeper.
Roberto Martinez was arguably guilty of under-statement when he used the word "special" to describe the goal. "The technicalities of it didn't surprise me at all because I know how he strikes a ball in training," the Wigan manager said. "But the football arrogance to make the decision to try to score from a free-kick, not from open play, is something special. It's just a shame it wasn't part of a winning scoreline."
His opposite number, Tony Pulis, relieved to get back to contesting points after the "Partygate" affair involving an alleged altercation with James Beattie at Arsenal, criticised Sorensen over Wigan's opening goal, by Emmerson Boyce, yet had no complaints about Figueroa's long-range screamer. "Don't take anything away from the lad," the Stoke manager said. "It was a great strike."
Stoke, the set-piece specialists, had been hoist by their own petard when Wigan went ahead after 15 minutes. Paul Scharner's free-kick produced a header by Rodallega which Simonsen one-handedly parried into the air. Boyce launched himself at the ball, despite Salif Diao's attempted overhead kick, requiring treatment to a cut forehead and a change from his blood-spattered shirt before resuming in central defence.
Tuncay Sanli, his hair flapping like a superhero's cape, marked his first home start since arriving from Middlesbrough in August by bringing Stoke level before half-time. Sorensen's booming long kick was headed on for the Turk to chase by the seemingly offside Ryan Shawcross. Tuncay was on the left wing but when Wigan failed to close him down, he exposed Chris Kirkland's suspect positioning by beating him on his near post.
Within two minutes of Figueroa's wonder goal Wigan conceded a poor one. With Kirkland caught in no man's land from Matthew Etherington's corner, Shawcross rose above Figueroa to head home. Stoke, with Tuncay "on fire" according to Pulis and Beattie introduced as a late substitute, looked the likelier winners until Huth fouled Jordi Gomez. The Wigan midfielder appeared at least a yard offside, only for referee Mike Dean to further incense a crowd by pointing to the spot.
Rodallega broke his run but Sorensen blocked his shot with a foot as he dived to his right and has now kept out five of his last six penalties. Pulis hailed Stoke's "commitment" after the media frenzy over the "Beattie affair", but sensed it was two points lost. Martinez felt the same, claiming Sorensen was "two yards off his line" when he saved the penalty, but this will be remembered as Figueroa's day.
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Tuncay