Europa League match report: Waregem 0-0 Wigan

Wigan emerged from their first-ever European match with a point after battling out a stalemate with Zulte Waregem in Bruges.

Roared on by around 2,500 fans who had made the trip from Wigan for the Europa League Group D game, the Latics made a bright start in driving rain and nearly had the lead in the third minute when James McArthur clipped the post with a curling shot.

Zulte, who had on-loan Chelsea midfielder Thorgan Hazard - the younger brother of Blues star Eden Hazard - in their team, came into the contest more as the first half continued, though.

And they were almost gifted a goal when James McClean headed against his own bar from a Hazard delivery in the 35th minute.

There was another self-inflicted scare for Owen Coyle's side just before the interval, with Wigan being dispossessed and the ball coming to Hazard, who saw his shot blocked by a defender before Scott Carson did well to keep out the follow-up from Ibrahima Conte.

Zulte continued to press after the break, although Ryan Shotton's strike then had goalkeeper Sammy Bossut diving with an outstretched glove to keep the score level.

A last-ditch block from Chris McCann then denied Karel D'Haene in the last few minutes.

Ultimately, the game at a sodden and sparsely-populated Jan Breydel Stadium - not the regular home of West Flanders-based Zulte - somewhat failed to live up to what was a landmark occasion in Wigan's history.

But Latics fans will surely not be too disappointed, with their team, starting with seven changes from last weekend's Sky Bet Championship loss at Leicester, having at least got off the mark in Group D, which also features Russia's Rubin Kazan and Maribor of Slovenia.

Prior to the encounter, Coyle had warned of the threat posed by Zulte's forward play but also stressed his team would be looking to counter it with an attacking brand of their own.

And it was the Latics who almost opened the scoring early on as Nick Powell's corner came to McArthur just outside the box via the head of skipper Emmerson Boyce.

McArthur brought the ball down and then volleyed it goalwards, skimming the outside of the goalframe.

At the other end, Conte skipped past the sliding challenge of Stephen Crainey and sent a low shot to Carson.

McCann teed up Jordi Gomez in a useful-looking position, but the Spaniard could only scuff off-target, before Bernard Malanda headed a Hazard corner well over.

Zulte gave the ball away in the 19th minute but Powell - the midfielder on loan from Manchester United, being deployed in this game as a striker - could not take advantage, showing little accuracy with his shot.

McCann won a corner just before the half-hour mark, with his subsequent header from it being cleared, and Wigan then came close to scoring an own-goal as McClean's head inadvertently directed Hazard's cross against the woodwork.

Zulte were looking more settled and in the 45th minute they almost punished sloppiness from McCann, who lost possession and watched on as Hazard was denied by a block and Conte by great reflexes from Carson.

Shortly after the restart, Habib Habibou headed wide for Zulte and Wigan debutant Shotton then prodded the wrong side of the post from a corner.

Zulte were pressing with increasing regularity and after Carson got a touch to Jens Naessens' delivery into the danger zone, with the ball evading Habibou, captain Davy De Fauw volleyed wide and Frederic Duplus missed with a header from a corner.

Coyle brought on Marc-Antoine Fortune for Callum McManaman and Ben Watson for Gomez and soon after, a Shotton attempt from outside the area nearly caught out Bossut, who managed to get a hand in the way.

McCann then made a crucial intervention in the 86th minute, throwing himself in front of D'Haene's close-range shot, before Conte curled narrowly over.