FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic proved Manchester City’s nemesis for the second time in less than a year on Sunday with a shock 2-1 quarter-final victory over Manuel Pellegrini’s talent-laden side.
Second-tier Wigan, who upset City 1-0 in the final at London’s Wembley Stadium in May last year to secure the Cup for the first time, went ahead through Jordi Gomez and James Perch, before holding off a rousing City fightback to set up a semi-final against Arsenal.
They were joined in the last four by Sheffield United and Hull City after the third-tier Blades upset Championship side Charlton Athletic 2-0, while Hull beat Premier League rivals Sunderland 3-0 in the other sixth-round ties.
Arsenal already booked their place in the last four with a 4-1 thrashing of Everton on Saturday.
Man City secured the English League Cup on March 2 in what fans hoped would have been the first leg of an unprecedented quadruple.
Sitting fourth in the Premier League, Man City were strong favorites to negotiate Wigan’s visit, but the Championship side, managed by former Man City striker and terrace hero Uwe Rosler, executed a perfect game plan and capitalized on a tired display from the hosts to go 2-0 up after 46 minutes.
“The only chance we had of doing the same here [beating City again] was to keep the ball. You have to get the ball down... It is high-risk, but our back five and the midfield were very good,” Rosler told BT Sport. “I talked [to the players] about bravery as well. We had Lady Luck on our side, but overall we are delighted.”
Man City defender Martin Demichelis, under the spotlight after recent poor performances, gave away the penalty that allowed Wigan to take the lead in the 27th minute.
The Argentine bought a dummy from Marc-Antoine Fortune at the byline, tripped the French striker in his desperation to make amends and Gomez stroked home the spot-kick.
City were stunned again two minutes after the break, when James McArthur was given time and space to cross and Perch shamed a sleepy Gael Clichy at the far post to bundle over the line from close range.
It took 63 minutes for the home side to seriously threaten the visitors’ goal when substitute striker Edin Dzeko headed against a post and they made their breakthrough four minutes later.
Dzeko used his aerial strength to meet a corner, Micah Richards laid off to Samir Nasri and the Frenchman drilled a left-foot, half-volley through a crowd of players — including Joleon Lescott in an offside position — and into the bottom corner of the Wigan net.
“I felt their goal was offside,” Rosler said. “Lescott was interfering with [the line of sight of] our goalkeeper.”
Seconds later, defender Richards whistled an angled effort centimeters wide of Scott Carson’s upright as the hosts piled on the pressure.
Dzeko came within centimeters of forcing a replay, but Emmerson Boyce produced a remarkable last-ditch block and Dzeko was agonizingly wide with another header.
“It is disappointing,” Pellegrini said. “I did not think we could be eliminated here against Wigan and we had chances to draw, but they played with great intensity and deserved to go through.”
The Chilean’s side must now turn their focus to overturning a two-goal deficit at Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie tomorrow.
Earlier on Sunday at Bramall Lane, second-half strikes from Ryan Flynn and John Brayford caught second-tier Charlton cold, as Sheffield United became the first third-tier team since 2001 to reach the FA Cup’s final four.
Midfielder Flynn put four-time Cup winners Sheffield ahead in the 65th minute, when he snuck in at the far post to nudge home a left-wing cross from Jose Baxter.
The home side doubled their lead 1 minute, 42 seconds later when defender Brayford’s low, long-range effort took a cruel deflection off the visitors’ Richard Wood and rolled into the net.
At KC Stadium, Hull reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1930 after striker Sone Aluko missed a first-half penalty against Sunderland.
A game of poor quality was brought to life in the 68th minute when defender Curtis Davies headed the opener.
Four minutes later, David Meyler was too quick and strong for Lee Cattermole, who allowed the midfielder to burst past him at the halfway line and slip the ball past Oscar Ustari for the second.
Meyler celebrated by running toward the sideline and headbutting the corner flag in an apparent reference to an incident last week in which Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew was sent off for aiming a headbutt at the Irishman during a Premier League game.
Five minutes later, Cattermole was again the Sunderland culprit, inexplicably aiming a backpass toward his ’keeper, but playing the ball straight to Matty Fryatt, who then produced the third.