LONDON − Wigan endured a bittersweet day as the team reached the FA Cup semifinals for the first time in its 81-year history but then sank into the Premier League relegation zone Saturday.
Wigan surprisingly beat Everton 3-0 away after goals by Maynor Figueroa, Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez inside a four-minute span in the first half secured a trip to Wembley.
“For us as a football club to go to Wembley is a unique moment − an historic moment,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said. “We want cup success, but not at the expense of the league form.”
Martinez’s relegation rivals were in league action later in the day, and Aston Villa won 2-1 at Reading to send Wigan into the drop zone.
Wigan is just a point above Reading and bottom-place Queens Park Rangers, which beat Sunderland 3-1.
While topflight survival is the priority for owner Dave Whelan, a trip to Wembley could give him happier memories of the national stadium. Whelan’s own career ended when he broke his leg playing for Blackburn in the 1960 FA Cup final.
“It has been an absolutely wonderful day. In the first half we skinned Everton alive,” Whelan said. “I had a dream in the week we came to Everton and beat them and then got Blackburn, who beat Millwall in the semifinal. We’re halfway there. ”
Figueroa headed in the opener at Goodison Park in the 31st minute from Gomez’s corner. McManaman was on target a minute later after outsprinting Sylvain Distin before striking past goalkeeper Jan Mucha, who was filling in for the injured Tim Howard.
Jordi Gomez completed the scoring from outside the penalty area after latching onto Arouna Kone’s pass.
Elsewhere, the focus was on the Premier League where six of the bottom eight played.
QPR now has back-to-back wins for the first time this season, rising just four points from safety by beating Sunderland.
After Steven Fletcher put Sunderland in front at Loftus Road, Loic Remy leveled before half time and Andros Townsend and Jermaine scored with exquisite half-volleys for the hosts.
QPR is level on points with Reading but remains bottom because of fewer goals scored. Reading had gone ahead against Villa after Nathan Baker’s 32nd-minute own goal but Christian Benteke equalized inside two minutes.
And Gabriel Agbonlahor clinched the win for Villa, which is just above the relegation zone.
Southampton is a point ahead of Villa after drawing 0-0 at Norwich, whose striker Grant Holt had a stoppage-time penalty saved by Artur Boruc. West Bromwich Albion rose to seventh by fighting back to beat Swansea 2-1.
Tevez treble helps Man City advance
Carlos Tevez put Manchester City on the road to Wembley with an FA Cup hat trick Saturday, two days after being arrested for a driving offense.
The Argentina striker also played a part in goals by Aleksandar Kolarov and David Silva as City crushed Barnsley 5-0 to reach the semifinals.
Tevez’s goals came while out on bail after being arrested for driving with a suspended license.
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