Wigan 1 Manchester United 3

  • By: Simon Stone, PA Sport
  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 20:17 BST

Ryan Giggs emerged from the bench to conjure up a rescue act for Manchester United at the JJB Stadium.

Wayne Rooney looks to charge forward.

Half-fit and without a game for more than a month, Giggs was only named as a substitute by Sir Alex Ferguson as an emergency measure after Cristiano Ronaldo failed to recover from an ankle injury.

But the Welshman still had too much class for Wigan, turning the game on its head after Leighton Baines' stunning fourth-minute free-kick had given the Latics an interval lead.

It was Giggs' corner which provided Nemanja Vidic with the equaliser, by which point he had already succeeded in wiping all the early swagger out of Wigan's play.

A brilliant piece of control from Louis Saha allowed the Frenchman to put United in front four minutes after Vidic's header and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer maintained his recent fine form with a stoppage-time third to seal a deserved win.

For a long time though, it looked as though United would have to wait for their first Premiership away triumph since August.

With Park Ji-Sung, Gabriel Heinze and Mikael Silvestre injured and Giggs so far short of full fitness he was only supposed to be coming along for the ride, the loss of Ronaldo and skipper Gary Neville were major blows for the visitors.

Ronaldo, in particular, has been one of the major inspirations behind United's rise to the Premiership summit. Without the Portugal winger, Ferguson's side were ponderous and predictable, relying far too much on the overlapping runs of Patrice Evra to give them any width.

Evra did his best. But it was a thankless task, especially as Ferguson could hardly expect Wayne Rooney to hog the left flank, even though that was the station he occupied in a five-man United midfield.

Although his current form is a major talking point, few doubt Rooney will eventually return to his devastating old ways.

He came agonisingly close to achieving just that midway through the opening period too, taking down Evra's deep cross with his back to goal, beating two men, then smashing a thunderous shot against the Wigan bar.

Rooney also felt brave enough to let fly with a long-range shot, so clearly there are no issues with his confidence.

The same should have been true of the entire United side given their form before the international break, yet organisationally, they were a shambles, with Michael Carrick once more anonymous at the heart of midfield.

Losing such an early goal could not have helped, although the Red Devils had been given a warning of Baines' prowess given the full-back's brutal strike against Germany last Friday which helped seal England's passage into next summer's European Under-21 Championships.

Presented with a free-kick by Evra's handball, Wigan quickly laid the ball back to Baines, whose first Premiership goal arrowed into the top corner, giving Edwin van der Sar no chance.

For the next 20 minutes, the Red Devils clung on, with Gary Teale and Emile Heskey proving a particular threat.

Ferguson's decision to introduce Giggs at the break hinted at desperation yet, given the Welshman's form prior to his recent hamstring injury, it was an obvious move.

And what an impact he made too as United put their previous problems behind them and seized control.

Giggs had already suggested he was in the mood to create havoc before he delivered the pinpoint right-wing corner just past the hour mark which saw Vidic power home his first goal since arriving at Old Trafford in a £7million deal from Spartak Moscow in January.

The arrival of Giggs also released Rooney from his left-wing hell. Even though the youngster reverted to a more orthodox striking position, he dropped deep with more freedom than he had done before.

And, after one audacious attempt to set up Saha had met with an unhappy conclusion when the Frenchman drilled disappointingly wide, the next time the pair combined, it was with devastating consequences for Wigan.

First, Saha showed intelligent movement to reach Rooney's cross in the first place. Then, after an absolutely magnificent first touch to bring the ball down from shoulder height, the Frenchman produced a finish to match, beating Kirkland with a stabbed effort which bounced off the inside of a post.

Rooney, Saha and Solskjaer all had chances to ease United home before the third eventually arrived, courtesy of the Norwegian's clinical injury-time finish.


Wigan Kirkland, Boyce, Hall, De Zeeuw, Baines,Teale (Valencia 69), Landzaat, Scharner, Kilbane (Todorov 69),Camara (McCulloch 60), Heskey.

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Jackson.

Goals: Baines 5.

Man Utd Van der Sar, Brown (Giggs 45), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra,Solskjaer, Carrick, O'Shea, Scholes, Rooney, Saha.

Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Smith, Richardson, David Jones.

Booked: Ferdinand, O'Shea.

Goals: Vidic 62, Saha 66, Solskjaer 90.

Att: 20,631

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).