James McClean: Helped Wigan to keep Thorgan Hazard and Zulte out
An historic night for Wigan Athletic saw them hold Zulte-Waregem to a 0-0 draw as they made their bow in European football.
The Latics more than held their own in rain-soaked Bruges, as the 2013 FA Cup winners opened their Europa League campaign, but were unable to force a breakthrough.
James McArthur saw an early effort clip the outside of the post, while James McClean glanced a header onto his own crossbar at the opposite end of the field, but clear-cut openings were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes.
Former Leeds United loanee Habib Habibou nodded wide in the second half, after beating Scott Carson to a dangerous delivery, and James Perch forced a smart save from Sammy Bossut, but the spoils were to be shared.
Prior to the encounter, Owen Coyle had warned of the threat posed by Zulte's forward play but also stressed his team would be looking to counter it with an attacking brand of their own.
And it was the Latics who almost opened the scoring early on as Nick Powell's corner came to McArthur just outside the box via the head of skipper Emmerson Boyce. McArthur brought the ball down and then volleyed it goalwards, skimming the outside of the woodwork.
At the other end, Conte skipped past the sliding challenge of Stephen Crainey and sent a low shot to Carson.
Chris McCann teed up Jordi Gomez in a useful-looking position, but the Spaniard could only scuff off-target, before Bernard Malanda headed a Hazard corner well over.
Zulte gave the ball away in the 19th minute but Powell - the midfielder on loan from Manchester United, being deployed in this game as a striker - could not take advantage, showing little accuracy with his shot.
McCann won a corner just before the half-hour mark, with his subsequent header from it being cleared, and Wigan then came close to scoring an own-goal as McClean's head inadvertently directed a cross from Thorgan Hazard - the younger brother of Eden who is on loan from Chelsea - against the frame of the goal.
Zulte were looking more settled and in the 45th minute they almost punished sloppiness from McCann, who lost possession and watched on as Hazard was denied by a block and Ibrahima Conte by great reflexes from Carson.
Shortly after the restart, Habibou headed wide for Zulte and Wigan debutant Ryan Shotton then prodded the wrong side of the post from a corner.
Zulte were pressing with increasing regularity and after Carson got a touch to Jens Naessens' delivery into the danger zone, with the ball evading Habibou, captain Davy De Fauw volleyed wide and Frederic Duplus missed with a header from a corner.
Coyle brought on Marc-Antoine Fortune for Callum McManaman and Ben Watson for Gomez and soon after, a Shotton attempt from outside the area nearly caught out Bossut, who managed to get a hand in the way.
McCann then made a crucial intervention in the 86th minute, throwing himself in front of Karel D'Haene's close-range shot, before Conte curled narrowly over.
|SV Zulte Waregem||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||1|
|8||Shots off Target||5|
|58.7||1st Half Poss.||41.3|
|77.1||2nd Half Poss.||22.9|
Source : http://www1.skysports.com/football/live/match/300985/report