Shaun Maloney’s terrific second-half strike helps lift Wigan Athletic out of the Premier League relegation zone and dealt a blow to Manchester United attempts of winning a 20th top flight title at the DW Stadium.
After Victor Moses’ headed was harshly ruled out in the opening 45 minutes, Maloney struck from 20 yards to seal the points.
With Wayne Rooney far from his best, United failed to create anything in terms of a clear cut openings, with Danny Welbeck coming closest with their only shot on target during the contest.
Manchester City’s win over West Bromwich Albion cuts the gap at the top to five points, with just five games of the season remaining, while Roberto Martinez's side are two points clear of the drop zone.
United went into the game looking to tighten their grip on the Premier League title with an eight-point lead over neighbours City, while Wigan, off the back of a controversial weekend defeat to Chelsea, had taken eight points from their four games prior to their Stamford Bridge trip.
The in-form Latics began the evening by peppering David de Gea’s goal, with the Spaniard coming under sustained pressure courtesy of James McCarthy’s teasing crosses.
But the reigning champions’ posed a decent threat early on and after Javier Hernandez failed to trick his way through Gary Caldwell’s attention, while Ryan Giggs’ cross was blocked at the crucial moment.
The home side thought they had taken the lead on the half hour when Victor Moses headed home, but referee Phil Dowd ruled out the effort for a foul on De Gea from Caldwell.
After twice being on the wrong end of decisions from the match officials against Chelsea, Martinez was justifiably furious, with replays showing the Scottish defender standing his ground, rather than blatantly fouling the United stopper.
The incident added further fuel to the fire, stoked by Wigan owner Dave Whelan prior to kick-off, that officials favoured the division’s big sides when it came to game changing decisions.
However, come the second period, the old adage of decisions evening themselves out over a season came true when Moses won a corner despite clearly having the final touch in his coming together with Phil Jones.
From the subsequent set piece, Maloney was allowed to roam off the left-hand touchline and curled a beauty past De Gea from 20 yards.
It was a lead the relegation strugglers thorough deserved, but one that even with 30 minutes remaining they were intent on holding on to rather than building on.
Having cut a frustrated figure for much of the evening, Wayne Rooney was replaced with 25 minutes left by Nani, who joined the previously introduced Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck.
Phil Jones felt United should have had a penalty when his driven cross appeared to strike Maynor Figueroa’s arm, leading a host of protests from the visiting set of players.
Moses could have sealed the points on two occasions, first having his shot smothered by De Gea, before his clean shot was deflected beyond the Spaniard’s right-hand post.
It took until the 83rd minute for United to spark Ali Al-Habsi into any kind of save, with Welbeck’s turn and shot forcing the best out of the goalkeeper.
But that was as close as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side came in the closing minutes, as Athletic saw out the crucial win in the battle to avoid relegation with relative ease.
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