Wigan Athletic's failure to score at home came back to bite them in the end, as Queens Park Rangers pulled off a 2-1 victory at home to advance to the Championship playoff final. They needed extra time to do it, but were the better side from around the half-hour mark on.
James Perch gave Wigan the lead after just nine minutes at the end of a gorgeous move. James McClean hit a cross from the left wing that found its way all the way to the back post, where Perch was waiting to tap in from close range.
Things turned in QPR's favor in the 36th minute, when James McArthur had to exit the match. Instead of bringing Jack Collison into the game, Wigan decided to replace him with Roger Espinoza. This left them with Jordi Gomez and Shaun Maloney as defensive midfielders and Espinoza in front of them, meaning they had no true central midfielders. This came back to bite them.
Wigan were able to hang on to their lead until halftime, though just barely. Charlie Austin nearly scored in the 39th minute, but Scott Carson came up with a brilliant stop to keep his team's clean sheet intact.
The Latics actually had the first huge chance of the second half, with McClean forcing a save out of Robert Green in the 68th minute, then hitting the post on the follow-up. But QPR's dominance in midfield eventually led to a goal, thanks to a mistake by Gary Caldwell. The Wigan defender tripped Junior Hoilett on the edge of the penalty area in the 71st minute and Austin stepped up to bury the penalty, leveling the match.
Wigan never looked much like scoring after that and couldn't have any complaints about QPR's eventual winner, scored six minutes into stoppage time. It came off a throw-in, with Bobby Zamora playing a gorgeous flick into the path of Austin, who beat Carson.
QPR looked shaky throughout the dying minutes of stoppage time, conceding a number of free kicks and corners, but just barely managed to hang on to go through to the final without needing penalties. They'll face Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 24.
QPR: Green, Onuoha, Dunne, Hill (Yun 50'), Simpson, Kranjcar, Barton, O'Neil (Morrison 69'), Hoilett, Austin, Doyle (Zamora 65')
Goals: Austin (pen 73')
Wigan: Carson, Kiernan, Caldwell (Barnett 74'), Boyce, Beausejour, Gomez, McArthur (Espinoza 36'), McClean, Perch, Maloney, McManaman (Waghorn 71')
Goals: Perch (9')