Figueroa signing off with a flourish

THOMAS SORENSEN faced two significant shots in the final 20 minutes of this hugely entertaining Battle of Britannia – one sublime, one abject.

The latter was Hugo Rodallega’s weak 90th-minute penalty – the third consecutive spot-kick the Dane has repelled – and the sublime was Maynor Figueroa’s audacious 61-yard chip.

“Obviously it is never great to be beaten from that distance, but you have to credit his awareness and his strike was unbelievable, I don’t think I have seen a strike like that for years,” said the Stoke goalkeeper.

“I was looking to take a positive starting position and look for the ball over the top and he saw the opportunity and I’d rather give him credit than be too sad myself.”

Having been left stranded by Figueroa’s quick thinking and luscious shot, Sorensen may be happy to hear he is unlikely to face the Honduran again at the Britannia, not in a Wigan shirt at least. The left full-back is coveted by many, not excluding the man who brought him to England, Steve Bruce.

The Sunderland manager’s successor at Wigan, Roberto Martinez, has given up hope of keeping hold of the 26-year-old, and his delightful left foot, beyond next summer’s World Cup.

“We know that we will not be able to keep him forever because the reality is he is slowly fulfilling his potential and his potential should be to go to the top of the top,” he said.

“He’s got the World Cup in front of him so I don’t think changes would be a good decision before such a big event in his career,” added the former Swansea manager. “He’ll probably go next summer but until then we will go on enjoying his defending and his magical goals.”

It truly was a magical goal and it gave Wigan a 2-1 lead that they retained for less than two minutes before Ryan Shawcross headed home unopposed a Matthew Etherington corner.

But few who saw it will forget the “arrogance” – as his manager described it – of Figueroa to quickly take a free-kick from within his own half and flight the ball so elegantly over Sorensen.

Actually, his team-mate Emmerson Boyce may not remember it. The centre-half could not even remember opening the scoring himself, as he received an accidental kick in the head from Salif Diao in the process and came off at half-time complaining of dizziness.

Another team-mate, Paul Scharner, remembers it and thinks it must win goal of the month, “minimum”: “If you score a goal like that, you have to pat him on the back. To be honest, he tries from everywhere to shoot. He stopped it a little bit over the last few months but we all know he has got a big hit.”

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was disappointed only draw but must be relieved that such an incident-packed match deflected attention from his, ahem, alleged tete-a-tete with James Beattie. He was also chuffed that another striker, Tuncay Sanli, opened the scoring with his first goal for the club

“I thought Tunny was very good today. He sparked a lot of things off, not just when he had the ball but his workrate and everything and his endeavour were first class.”

So, will Pulis have Sanli, Ricardo Fuller and Beattie to choose from after the January transfer window?

“I hope so.”

REFEREE: Mike Dean (Wirral) 7: Brandished six yellows card but was not excessively fastidious. Allowed a hard-fought match to flow as best he could.

MATCH RATING: **** A wonderful goal, last-minute penalty save and goalscorer’s amnesia. A game with almost everything.

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