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Evans strike sees Wigan edge entertaining clash with Cardiff

Wigan edged a thoroughly pulsating Sky Bet Championship opener against Cardiff 3-2 thanks to a world-class strike from Wales international Lee Evans.

Joe Ralls saw his opener for Cardiff cancelled out by strikes from Michael Jacobs and Josh Windass, but the scores were levelled once more by Omar Bogle.

However, Evans’ curling effort 15 minutes from time ensured the points stayed in Wigan.

Cardiff were lucky not to be reduced to 10 men inside seven minutes when Ralls caught Evans just below the knee with a reckless challenge that could easily have seen him given a red card rather than yellow.

And the visitors rubbed salt into the wounds by taking the lead on the 20-minute mark, through Ralls.

The midfielder was first to react to a parry out from David Marshall and smashed the ball past the goalkeeper and two defenders on the line.

Wigan mounted a decent response, with Michael Jacobs seeing a shot blocked and Joe Garner’s effort seemingly catching the hand of Aden Flint, only for the official to wave play on.

Paul Cook clearly thought it was a penalty and the Wigan boss received his side’s first yellow card on the 24-minute mark for voicing dissent in the direction of referee David Webb.

Cardiff kept Wigan at arm’s length for the rest of the half, and almost doubled their lead within a minute of the restart.

Bobby Reid really ought to have converted from 12 yards, but steered his shot just past the near post and Wigan almost took full advantage within two minutes.

Windass was tripped in the box by Flint for a stonewall penalty. The Wigan forward picked himself up and took the kick himself but saw it hit the left-hand post and rebound away.

Cardiff were then forced into a goalkeeping change when Neil Etheridge limped off to be replaced by Joe Day, and the first task for the new-boy was to pick the ball out of his net.

Windass made partial amends for his penalty miss by lining up a free-kick from almost 40 yards out on the hour mark. The ball deflected off the wall and looped it into the box, where Jacobs tucked home with aplomb.

Three minutes later, Windass was the Wigan hero as he raced on to a through ball and fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net.

However, Cardiff were not finished and former Wigan man Bogle bundled the ball home with 20 minutes to go, to the delighted of the visiting fans behind the goal.

Still both teams pushed forward in search of a winner and it was Wigan who found goal number five of an incredible contest.

Evans cut in from the Wigan left and curled a magnificent strike into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Cardiff saw a couple of goalmouth scrambles hacked away by desperate Wigan defending, with substitute Cedric Kipre almost heading into his own net.

But Wigan could and should have found a fourth goal in the dying seconds, only for Windass’ shot to be tipped round the post by Day.