Europa League - Wigan crash out as Maribor progress

Europa League, Group D, Ljudski vrt - NK Maribor 2 (Mezga 43,Filipovic 59) Wigan Athletic 1 (Gomez 40)

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Europa League - Wigan crash out as Maribor progress
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Maribor’s Damjan Bohar (L) vies with James McArthur of Wigan Athletic

Wigan Athletic were left heartbroken as they lost out in a thrilling 2-1 defeat to NK Maribor who now advance to the final 32 of the Europa League.

A Jordi Gomez penalty put the visitors in the lead on 40 minutes but Dejan Mezga equalised from the spot four minutes later before Zeljko Filipovic won the game for his side on 59 minutes.

New Wigan manager Uwe Rösler knew if his side could record a victory in Slovenia and Rubin Kazan could beat Zulte Waregem in Group D’s other fixture then his side would qualify from the group.

And the Latics made a dream start to the match when they were awarded a penalty after Soares Arghus brought down Nick Powell with a clumsy tackle and Gomez stepped up and put his penalty straight down the middle of goal – it was the Championship side’s first ever European goal on their travels.

However, in a period of five crazy minutes, Wigan surrendered their lead just moments later as Chris McCann was punished for blocking Mijta Viler ‘s shot and, having already been booked, was sent off and Maribor were awarded a dubious penalty.

Mezga’s penalty was superbly saved by Scott Carson who tipped the ball onto the post but, agonizingly for Wigan, the rebound fell kindly for the Croatian to tap home the equaliser.

Filipovic put the Slovenians into the lead on 59 minutes when he latched onto a cut back from Mezga to beautifully curl the ball past Carson with a lovely side-footed finish.

But Maribor were made to sweat for their victory as they also had a man sent off with just less than 15 minutes to play when Ales Mertejl was shown a second yellow card of his own.

And on 78 minutes, news filtered through that Rubin Kazan had taken the lead in Belgium meaning bottom of the group Maribor would leap into the second qualifying position.

In a nail-biting final 10 minutes for the home side, the Slovenians did just enough to hold on and claim a place in the final 32 of the competition.

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