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Tuesday, 24 February 2015, 19:45

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Coyle expects Wigan to compete

Owen Coyle believes his Wigan side showed they can be a match for a lot of teams in Europe as they recorded their first victory in continental competition.

Last Updated: 04/10/13 at 10:08 Post Comment

Owen Coyle: With goalscorer Nick Powell

Owen Coyle: With goalscorer Nick Powell

The DW Stadium played host to European football for the first time and the FA Cup winners responded with a deserved 3-1 win over Slovenian side Maribor.

Coyle said: "Maribor are a very good side but from start to finish I thought we were outstanding.

"The football we played, we passed and moved the ball at a real intensity culminating in some terrific goalscoring chances. Not that there is any negative, but there's no doubt we could have scored six or seven goals tonight."

Nick Powell had the honour of scoring the Latics' first European goal in the 21st minute, albeit thanks to a horrible mistake from Maribor keeper Jasmin Handanovic, and Ben Watson made it 2-0 before half-time.

Wigan should have scored many more goals, with on-loan Manchester United man Powell in particular guilty of a number of bad misses.

And it looked like that could cost Coyle's men when Maribor captain Tavares pulled one back on the hour mark.

With 90 minutes almost up, Scott Carson then had to produce a terrific save to keep out a sweetly-struck effort from Tavares before Powell made the game safe with a fine individual goal.

Coyle said: "We felt we conceded a sloppy goal, although we know the quality of (Jean Philippe) Mendy and Tavares, and then Scott Carson makes a great save at 2-1.

"Apart from that, I don't recall them having too much and we really should have put the game to bed and been very comfortable. But when you don't there's always the chance there can be a sucker punch.

"The lads stuck to their task and Nick Powell rounded it off, which was fitting. The fans were brilliant tonight and it's fitting they left on the back of seeing a wonderful goal."

Wigan fans certainly enjoyed their first experience of staging European football on the back of their stunning FA Cup final triumph over Manchester City in May.

And three points to add to the goalless draw in Belgium against Zulte Waregem two weeks ago means they are well placed in Group D.

Coyle said: "When we bring it all together, it's a terrific sight to see, and you saw that tonight. The fans were bouncing, enjoying European football.

"Sixteen years ago we were a Division Four club and to be out there on that European stage - and not only on the stage but showing the quality they did. Because with that performance tonight, we would have stood toe-to-toe with an awful lot of teams, and that was very pleasing."

Coyle was all too aware, though, of the debt the team owed Carson for his tremendous one-handed save when Tavares' shot looked to be heading for the top corner.

"It would have been the biggest injustice you've ever seen but it wasn't and that's why he's there," said Coyle of his summer signing from Bursaspor.

"He's an outstanding goalkeeper. He's been England goalkeeper before and I know he's got the desire to try to get back to that level. Performances like this will certainly help.

"That's the key ingredient of top goalkeepers. He was probably idle for 95% of that game, but when he's called upon he makes a wonderful save and there's no doubt it was a huge moment in the game."

Wigan sit second in the table, two points behind Russian side Rubin Kazan and three ahead of Zulte.

Next up for the Latics is a double-header against Rubin, who appear to be the class of the group, with the first match at home in three weeks' time.

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