• Wigan Athletic 3-1 Maribor
• Powell 22 90, Watson 33; Tavares 60
This was the DW Stadium's first glimpse of European football, and the consensus on the concourses was that Blackburn Rovers will provide more of a challenge when they appear here on Sunday. If Wigan could play opponents as limp as the champions of Slovenia every week they would be back in the Premier League in no time.
Whether Maribor were keeping their powder dry for the return fixture remains to be seen, but the more experienced European competitors remain bottom of Group D while Wigan's tyros can be quite happy with an away draw and a home win after two games. They were never in much danger from the moment their hapless visitors presented them with the opening goal, even if they characteristically made life hard for themselves in the second half by missing a number of chances and letting the Slovenians pull a goal back.
"We were outstanding, how we didn't score seven or eight goals is beyond me," Owen Coyle, the manager, said. "Scott Carson had to make a great save to keep us ahead right at the end but it should never have been that close. We missed a lot of chances and let them score a soft goal."
Both sides spent the first few minutes coming to terms with a pitch made heavy by rain before Nick Powell was presented with the first chance by a wayward Maribor backpass from the halfway line. The Manchester United loanee showed good pace and altertness in claiming the ball and fashioning a shooting chance, only to put his attempt too close to the goalkeeper and allow Jasmin Handanovic to make a fingertip save.
Handanovic did not acquit himself quite so well when Wigan took the lead midway through the first half, virtually throwing the ball into his own net with the sort of goalkeeping gaffe beloved of clip compilers. When Jean Beausejour centred from the left a half-block by a defender appeared to have taken the sting out of the cross, with the ball ballooning high into the air, yet Handanovic mistimed his punch to send the ball back towards his own goal and leave Powell with the near formality of heading over the line. Right in front of Maribor's travelling band of about 50 supporters, alone in an otherwise empty stand, there was a comedy element to Wigan's first ever goal in Europe. "Mistakes happen," Maribor's coach, Ante Simundza, said. "It didn't change the course of the match."
Jean-Philippe Mendy managed a shot on target on the half hour for Maribor but aimed it straight at Carson, leaving Wigan to extend their lead with a much more elegant goal three minutes later. Again Beausejour was the provider, putting a diagonal cross over from the left, and again Handanovic failed to make effective contact as Ben Watson appeared at the last moment to take the matter out of his hands with a firm goalward header. Wigan were beginning to find it all surprisingly easy, though Powell would have done better to square the ball to the unmarked James McArthur when he next broke free, rather than confidently going for glory with an attempted chip and missing the target.
Wigan should have had a third when McArthur freed Beausejour for another accurate cross just before the hour, one that took out the goalkeeper as well as what remained of the Maribor defence, yet sliding in to touch the ball into an unprotected net Powell somehow managed to hit the inside of a post and saw the rebound roll to safety.
That looked as though it might be costly when Mendy broke downfield and held off Ryan Shotton's challenge to square for Marcos Tavares to pull a goal back, especially as Wigan began to misplace passes in a sloppy spell shortly afterwards. Emmerson Boyce had to rescue Shotton when the defender slipped in possession, and Carson produced a last-minute save to deny Tavares, but Wigan managed to hold out. Their task would have been made easier had not Powell fluffed another tap-in, slightly more awkward than the first, from a cross by Watson, but he made up for the misses right at the death with an individual second goal. It was no more than Wigan deserved. "I know Nick's quality, I tried to sign him for Bolton," Coyle said. "Wearing my striker's hat, though, I feel he should have had four or five on the night."