Wigan 0 Liverpool 0

Wigan Athletic v Liverpool: Kenny Dalglish and Roberto Martinez chat before the game
Wigan Athletic v Liverpool: Kenny Dalglish and Roberto Martinez chat before the game

A SUPERB penalty save from Ali Al Habsi helped Latics continue their impressive recent run against the Merseysiders.

Al Habsi diving to his left to keep out a penalty from Charlie Adam at the beginning of the second half.

And an outstanding rearguard action – with Maynor Figueroa, Antolin Alcaraz and skipper Gary Caldwell again outstanding – helped keep Liverpool out, extending Wigan’s unbeaten run in this fixture to four matches.

Not that this was all one-way traffic, Latics seeing plenty of the ball and carving out numerous chances to take the spoils themselves.

Conor Sammon couldn’t convert a couple of opportunities in the first half, while Victor Moses stabbed against the outside of the post in a rousing climax.

Roberto Martinez had, as expected, named an unchanged side, Alcaraz continuing at the heart of the defence and Hugo Rodallega being passed fit to take his place on the bench.

Liverpool fielded Luis Suarez despite his well-documented off-field problems, and the travelling army from Merseyside predictably voiced their support from the minute the teams emerged from the tunnel.

The visitors had lost only one of their last 14 matches, and hit Latics with everything early doors.

Maxi Rodriguez was stopped dead in his tracks on the edge of the penalty area by Figueroa but the ball fell to Jordan Henderson, whose shot was well saved by Al Habsi.

Jose Enrique then skipped past Alcaraz a little too easily, but his cross was cleared by Figueroa with Suarez lurking.

Latics almost paid the price for trying to play the ball out of their own box when Alcaraz gave the ball away, Rodriguez firing into the South Stand to the relief of the Paraguayan.

Martin Skrtel, who’d stayed up from a Reds corner, was the next to test Al Habsi, whose handling was assured in the opening exchanges.

Latics showed their attacking intent for the first time on the 15-minute mark, and Jordi Gomez almost added to his tally of four goals from the last five matches.

Sammon caused all sorts of problems inside the Liverpool penalty area and the ball fell to Gomez eight yards out.

The Spaniard attempted to pull the trigger as a grounded defender tried to block the ball, and referee Michael Oliver awarded Liverpool a rather generous free-kick as the ball flew straight at Pepe Reina – which would have been a controversial call had the ball ended up in the back of the net.

Oliver favoured the Reds again moments later when he waved play on after Moses appeared to be felled in the area by Skrtel.

A dangerous free-kick from Adam was then well-dealt with by Caldwell, before Reina had three long-range shots to deal with in quick succession.

Figueroa and Gomez didn’t really trouble the Spaniard, but Reina was glad to see the third effort from Diame whistle past the post and into the side-netting.

A great move from Liverpool involving Suarez and Stewart Downing saw Dirk Kuyt force a great save from Al Habsi, who punched the resulting corner from Adam towards the edge of the area.

Daniel Agger tried a swinger with his right foot, and the ball only just cleared the crossbar.

Liverpool came closer still midway through the half, Glen Johnson playing a one-two with Rodriguez which sliced through the Latics rearguard like a knife through butter.

The shot, however, was straight at Al Habsi, who saved well with his feet.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued with Moses leading a break and playing in Diame, whose shot was saved by Reina at the expense of a corner.

At the other end, Suarez had two men over, but his ball to Rodriguez was hopelessly over-hit and Latics were able to get back and clear.

The crowd were on their feet on 36 minutes, when Moses dispossessed Johnson and sprinted fully 50 yards before his shot was punched away by Reina.

And Latics were claiming their second penalty of the half when David Jones’ shot appeared to strike the hand of a Liverpool defender, Oliver again waving play on.

Superb harrying from James McCarthy then forced an error from Adam, and the midfielder had the presence of mind to play a swift reverse ball to Sammon. The Dubliner temporarily had a clear sight of goal, but didn’t see Agger coming in and, by the time the shot came in, the defender had got in a position to block.

Caldwell was then inches away from getting on the end of a Jones corner that evaded everyone on its way through the corridor of uncertainty.

Clever play from Gomez then gave Sammon another sight of goal, but this time the striker chose to control instead of hitting it first time and Johnson was able to clear.

Latics had a scare at the end of the half when McCarthy went down heavily in stoppage-time, but he was able to continue after treatment.

Liverpool started the second period as they had the first, and a Suarez free-kick forced a tip over from Al Habsi.

And the Reds won them-selves a golden opportunity to open the scoring just four minutes after the restart. Henderson’s mis-hit shot went to Suarez, whose overhead kick struck the arm of Caldwell at point-blank range.

The Wigan skipper in no way intentionally handled the ball, but he couldn’t have had much cause for complaint given the way he jumped in with arms outstretched.

Suarez wanted to take the penalty but Adam was given the responsibility, and the former Blackpool man’s well-struck effort was superbly parried away by Al Habsi.

The match had settled down as the hour mark came and went – it had to after the the thrills and spills of the first 50 minutes – but Reina had to move smartly to stop a Gomez shot from 20 yards.

Sammon gave way to Franco di Santo with 28 minutes remaining, the crowd giving him a standing ovation after another sterling shift ploughing the lone furrow up top.

A clever free-kick straight from the Liverpool training ground then saw Adam tee up Kuyt, but the Dutchman’s finish was poor and looped yards over the bar.

Back came Latics and Jones played Moses in down the left, and his teasing cross deserved better than to drift across the six-yard box and out for a throw-in.

Kenny Dalglish made his move on 72 minutes, bringing off Kuyt and Rodriguez and sending on Craig Bellamy and Jonjo Shelvey. Martinez responded by withdrawing Jones and Gomez with Ben Watson and Rodallega joining the fray.

Rodallega had scored in each of his last two games against Liverpool at the DW, and he was nearly handed the chance to make it the hat-trick when Diame played in Moses down the right.

But his cross was nicked away from the Colombian at the last minute by Agger.

As time ticked by, the same combination saw Rodallega’s header from Moses’ cross hit Johnson and fly behind for a corner.

From the resulting set-piece, Watson’s delivery was poked agonisingly against the outside of the post by Moses with Reina in all kinds of trouble on the deck, and Latics held on to secure their second point in a row against one of the ‘big boys’.