Premier League - Everton leave it late to beat Wigan

Sat, 17 Sep 16:57:00 2011

Everton netted two late goals to overcome a battling Wigan Athletic 3-1 in their Premier League clash at Goodison Park.

Everton 3 Wigan 1

Franco Di Santo gave Roberto Martinez's side a shock lead in the 31st minute with a deflected strike which zipped past a helpless Tim Howard, but just two minutes later Everton were back level as Phil Jagielka converted from close range after Tim Cahill's initial header struck the woodwork.

The match looked to be petering out poorly with neither side able to find a cutting edge in the final third, but substitutes Apostolos Vellios and Royston Drenthe netted late on to give Everton their first home victory of the season.

Earlier in the day, one of Everton's summer transfer window sales, Aiyegbeni Yakubu, netted twice for Blackburn against Arsenal and boss David Moyes again fielded a strike partnership of two midfielders: Cahill and Leon Osman.

Wigan infuriated their hosts even prior to the match as Gary Caldwell delayed kick-off by three minutes, changing his boots on the touchline to the frustration of the home fans, and a very scrappy opening period ensued.

Seamus Coleman could have given the hosts the lead inside the opening five minutes as he headed on target to force Ali Al-Habsi into a fine reflex save at his near post after a deep delivery from Leighton Baines.

Wigan enjoyed fleeting attacks into the Everton half, and Di Santo squandered a glorious opportunity to lay the ball off to Hugo Rodallega as he hurtled down the left after Marouane Fellaini tripped and lost possession in the 10th minute.

Auxiliary forward Osman was an ebullient presence for the hosts, occupying the Wigan back four with constant harrying, but he was denied a clear-cut opportunity as Cahill failed to slip him in after retrieving possession.

Everton looked the more comfortable in possession for the most part, but it was the visitors who seized the initiative to take the lead on the half hour mark. Di Santo broke incisively from the left and drilled a low shot which deflected beyond Howard and into the far corner of the net to stun Goodison Park.

But Everton did not have to wait long for parity to be restored. A typically devilish delivery from Baines was met by Cahill who thundered a powerful header against the crossbar with Jagielka on hand to turn the ball home from the rebound.

The start of the second half was utterly devoid of quality in the final third at both ends of the pitch, and Moyes decided he had seen enough on the hour mark as he introduced summer signing Drenthe, and later striker Vellios.

Vellios made a rather inauspicious start as he was given a rollicking from his team-mates and manager after going alone and dragging a tame shot straight at Al-Habsi despite having Osman screaming for the ball outside him and unmarked.

But the Greek stamped his authority on the match to grab the winner in the 84th minute, rising imperiously inside the Wigan box to head beyond Al-Habsi from Hibbert's exquisitely-flighted delivery from out on the right.

Everton were almost caught napping two minutes later, however, as the hosts' back four completely switched off to afford Wigan substitute David Jones space to loop a deft attempt over Howard but against the crossbar.

The three points were wrapped up in the eighth minute of stoppage time following Rodallega being stretchered off for Wigan as substitute Drenthe kept his cool to receive a pass from fellow new boy Denis Stracqualursi and find a precise finish.

The Toffees clung on to secure an important three points in a match which Moyes identified as an encounter his side needed to win, and he may have even found himself that elusive centre-forward after Vellios made his mark.

Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter @danquarrell / Eurosport

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