from Giggs and reached the ball ahead of the onrushing Ali Al Habsi before tumbling to the ground. Though there was minimal contact and Welbeck made no appeal, referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot, to the visible and understandable enragement of the visitors. Their ire was soothed, however, when Al Habsi plunged to his left to comfortably palm away Chicharito’s effort from the spot. Justice had quickly been done, to the detriment of the mood at Old Trafford, which was understandably flattened by the spurned opportunity.
Welbeck appeared to place himself in sole charge of enlivening the crowd again, turning in a lively attacking display which gave the Wigan defence a torrid time. The England striker forced Maynor Figueroa into a vital sliding block, then cracked a superb volley just wide after Nani’s teasing, clipped cross. Twice more Welbeck came close – having a shot deflected over after nicking possession, then striking Nemanja Vidic with a goal-bound shot – before Wigan threatened for the first time as Ivan Ramis headed wide from Shaun Maloney’s out-swinging free-kick.
Emmerson Boyce then scuffed a shot narrowly wide of Anders Lindegaard’s near post as the visitors began to demonstrate their counter-attacking menace, before Welbeck headed just over from Carrick’s clipped cross. For all Welbeck’s prominence, however, it was Nani who had the Reds’ clearest open-play opening of the first period. Chicharito held the ball up and teed up Giggs to release the Portuguese winger, who fell foul of an untimely bobble as he tried to loft the ball over Al Habsi and sent his finish high into the Stretford End crowd.