Watson scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final last season as Wigan upset the odds to beat Man City 1-0 at Wembley. And they are now just one game from a return to the national stadium, after edging out a lacklustre Cardiff side.
Chris McCann put Wigan ahead after 18 minutes, tapping in Jordi Gomez’s left wing cross from close range.
But Cardiff fought back through Fraizer Campbell, who took full advantage of some sloppy Wigan defending to pull the hosts back on to level terms with another close range effort.
Cardiff pushed hard for an equaliser before half-time and went close through Juan Cala, whose header struck the post. Before that Campbell had wasted a great opportunity to put the hosts in front, heading over from point-blank range.
In the second half Wigan were happy to sit back and invite pressure from the hosts, but for all Cardiff tried they could not find a way past the Latics, who set up with eight men behind the ball and used Marc-Antoine Fortune as an outlet.
3’ - Ben Watson switches play from left to right to James Perch but his shot is comfortably saved by David Marshall.
18’ – GOAL: Chris McCann puts FA Cup holders Wigan ahead from close range after he finds space to tap in Jordi Gomez's low cross from the left.
26’ – GOAL: Fraizer Campbell equalises for Cardiff from close range after sloppy defending from Wigan. They haven't been convincing, but Campbell's confidence in front of goal is enough to pull them level.
35’ - Campbell wastes a great chance, heading over from close range after Wilfried Zaha crosses from the right.
40’ – GOAL: Gomez rolls the ball to Watson who strikes it cleanly and powerfully from outside the area to give Wigan the lead for a second time.
53’ – Callum McManaman's cross from the left is unexpectedly met by McCann at the back post who almost curls it beyond Marshall to extend Wigan's lead.
81’ – Mats Moller Daehli darts into the box, jinking left and right, before his deflected shot just zips over the bar.
84’ – Craig Noone's speculative shot from outside the area is parried for a corner by Ali Al Habsi.
This was FA Cup holders Wigan’s 11th match unbeaten in the competition.
In seven FA Cup games against Premier League opposition, miserly Wigan have conceded just four goals.
This is only the third time in Wigan’s history that they have reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. It is also the second in as many years.
Ben Watson has scored three goals in four FA Cup games.
Are Cardiff condemned to finish the season miserably? After this display Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will soon lose those famous babyfaced looks. Cardiff struggled to break down an organised Wigan side, and despite having plenty of creative talent they didn’t have the experience or the finishing touch to mount any kind of fightback against a side that has played over 40 games this season. The return of cup-tied striker Kenwyne Jones may help but he won’t keep them up on his own.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jordi Gomez pulled the strings for Wigan and put in an assured performance to show that he is fully capable of playing in the Premier League on a regular basis. The Spaniard set up both goals and was regularly at the centre of Wigan’s best moves.
- Sports & Recreation
- Fraizer Campbell
- Jordi Gomez
- Ben Watson