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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
Wigan 1-0 Middlesbrough
By Jon Barbuti

Antoine Sibierski
Sibierski has scored two goals in two games for the Latics
Antoine Sibierski scored on his home debut to secure a deserved victory for Wigan against Middlesbrough.

The striker reacted well on 54 minutes to slide home after Mark Schwarzer could only parry a low drive.

Stewart Downing came closest to equalising with a left-foot shot that rebounded off the foot of the post.

But conceding would have been harsh on Latics boss Chris Hutchings, who picked up his first win, while Boro are left waiting for their first point.

Despite both sides losing their opening matches, Hutchings and Gareth Southgate kept faith in their opening day line-ups, with Sibierski replacing Caleb Folan in the only change on either side.

In a first half perhaps best described as disjointed, it was Wigan who created the greater number of half chances.


The home side featured three players making their home debuts in defence, but it was the Boro backline that played as if they met for the first time on the team bus.

Sibierski was left unmarked on the edge of the area after three minutes, but sliced over from Antonio Valencia's low cross.

With Jason Koumas bossing the midfield, Wigan continued to look the more dangerous and came close to scoring on 20 minutes as Denny Landzaat found the time to bring the ball down and chip a dainty shot just wide from 12 yards.

Boro, playing as if on a healthy draw bonus, created their first half-chance on 29 minutes. Jeremie Aliadiere played a neat reverse pass to Julio Arca and from the full-back's lay-off Downing hit a crisp shot that Mario Melchiot did superbly to block.

Boro had a scare on the stroke of half-time when Downing required treatment after appearing to twist his knee.

But the England winger was able to resume the second half and had the first crossing opportunity, though his effort was typical of the delivery in general, hitting the first defender at ankle height.

Koumas, finding space in midfield, again tried his luck from distance on 48 minutes, but again his shot was too close to Schwarzer.

And the Latics finally got the goal their huge territorial advantage deserved on 54 minutes. Valencia received the ball 25 yards out and fired in a deflected shot that Schwarzer could only deflect onto the toes of Sibierski.

Forced to attack in earnest, Boro came close when Downing was given room to cut in from the right wing and hit a 20-yard left-foot shot that beat Kirkland but rebounded to safety off the foot of the post.

Mido was watching in the stands prior to his proposed move to Boro from Spurs, but the visitors could have done with his influence on the pitch.

After a frustrating hour, Yakubu was replaced by Dong-Gook Lee, but the change did little to alter the balance of play.

Rolling the dice for the final time, Southgate brought on Lee Cattermole for the tiring Aliadiere, but Boro never looked likely to grab an undeserved equaliser.

Indeed Wigan should have doubled their lead, Paul Scharner firing wide when clean through deep into injury time.

  • Wigan manager Chris Hutchings:
    "It's always nice to get the first victory under your belt. To get three points tonight is very pleasing.

    "It was a big team effort. I thought we could have scored a few more to be quite honest.

    "It was quite an open game, but I was delighted that we kept a clean sheet. There were a lot of plusses."

  • Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate:
    "We didn't do enough to win the game, that's for sure.

    "We weren't quite positive enough until we'd gone behind. We've got to pick ourselves up. Nobody's going to help us out - it's down to us.

    "We didn't deserve anything and the players know that. We've got to go to Fulham and get something on Saturday."

    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Granqvist, Kilbane, Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Koumas, Heskey, Sibierski (Aghahowa 66).
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Hall, Cotterill, Skoko.

    Booked: Kilbane.

    Goals: Sibierski 55.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Davies, Riggott, Wheater, Taylor, Sanli (Johnson 71), Boateng, Arca, Downing, Aliadiere (Cattermole 87), Yakubu (Lee 65).
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Hines.

    Booked: Sanli, Johnson, Arca.

    Att: 14,007.

    Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).

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