Wigan Athletic shock Manchester United to throw open title race

Shaun Maloney scores the winner against the leaders, while Arsenal win 3-0 at Wolves and Queens Park Rangers defeat Swansea City 3-0.

Shaun Maloney was the Wigan Athletic hero with the winner against Manchester United.
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The Premier League title race took another twist last night as Manchester United dropped three points at the most unlikely of venues.

Wigan Athletic shocked the league leaders at DW Stadium boosting a victorious Manchester City's recently faltering championship bid.

The first half was a tepid affair with the only talking point being a disallowed Victor Moses goal for a foul on United keeper David de Gea.

However, Shaun Maloney brought the game to life and stunned United five minutes after the restart.

Picking up the ball from a quickly taken corner, he ghosted past Wayne Rooney to curl the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Wigan had begun proceedings in their usual methodical manner, with Moses nicking the ball away from Patrice Evra, only for Ashley Young to race back and snuff out the danger.

Michael Carrick tripped Maloney in a dangerous area but Wigan wasted the free-kick, as they did when Jean Beausejour was upended by fellow South American Antonio Valencia.

Moses had a penalty appeal turned down for handball against Jones, with TV replays showing a spot-kick would have been incredibly harsh against the United defender.

James McCarthy then had a shot tipped over by David de Gea as the hosts maintained their offensive.

Ferguson reacted to his side's tepid display by replacing Young with Tom Cleverley at half time.

Moses showed his strength to shrug Ferdinand off the ball, but then knocked it too close to the United defender, who tapped it away.

Former Wigan man Valencia chopped down Maloney, but after finding space from the free-kick, the Scot's cross was blocked.

Wigan were pressing once more and after Beausejour had earned his side a corner - much to Jones' displeasure - the Chile man returned a pass to Maloney, who darted round Rooney before sending a sensational shot into the top corner.

The goal - the first Wigan had scored in six attempts against United during Martinez's reign - breathed life into Wigan's fight for survival and caused tremors at the top, too.

Arsenal boosted their grip on third place in the Premier League and pushed Wolverhampton Wanderers a step closer to relegation as they cruised to a 3-0 victory at Molineux.

The game was effectively over as a contest inside the opening 11 minutes as Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott netted and the hosts had Sebastien Bassong sent off.

The drama began in the eighth minute as Bassong was adjudged to have brought down Walcott as he raced on to Van Persie’s pass and was red carded by referee Neil Swarbrick.

Up stepped Van Persie and he dinked the ball over Wayne Hennessey after he had dived to the right for his 34th goal of the season and first in five matches.

Wolves made an instant substitution with another centre-back in Christophe Berra replacing midfielder Davis as they reverted to a 4-4-1 system in an attempt to cope with their setback

The home side could not handle the pace of Walcott and he doubled Arsenal’s lead within seconds of the change.

The England player exchanged passes with Van Persie before curling the ball past Hennessey into the corner of the net.

Yossi Benayoun ensured all three points would be heading back to Emirates Stadium and a contented Arsene Wenger when he picked up Alex Song’s pass and fired home into the left-hand corner from 20 yards out past a despairing Hennessey.

Queens Park Rangers' survival hopes were given a huge boost as they impressively dispatched Swansea City 3-0 at Loftus Road.

The embattled Rs were unable to match the visitors' slick passing game in the opening 45 minutes and were guilty of some poor finishing.

However, QPR captain Joey Barton made amends in first-half stoppage time when he smashed home the opener.

Jamie Mackie's deflected effort doubled the Hoops' advantage 10 minutes after the restart and Akos Buzsaky wrapped up three points from range.

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