Premier League - Inspired Wigan thrash Newcastle
In-form Wigan tore Newcastle United to shreds in a 4-0 victory as Roberto Martinez's side took a significant step towards retaining their Premier League status at the DW Stadium.
A scintillating first-half showing from the hosts left the visitors utterly shell-shocked as a clinical three-minute brace from Victor Moses preceded a slick team goal for Shaun Maloney to add a third in the 36th minute.
Franco Di Santo produced a sublime finish from the edge of the box to add a fourth on the stroke of half-time, and Newcastle could only twice hit the woodwork in response. The Latics have now won five of their last seven Premier League matches and go three points clear of the relegation zone, while Alan Pardew’s side suffered a big set-back in their challenge to secure a Champions League spot.
Pardew named an unchanged side as the Magpies started the day in fourth place, two points ahead of fifth placed Tottenham, with the Latics hovering just one point above the drop zone. Martinez, meanwhile, made one change, handing Maloney his first start since his famous winner against Manchester United earlier this month, with Jordi Gomez dropping to the bench.
Moses, a constant livewire in the final third, almost scored in the seventh minute with a tame shot allowing Tim Krul to save, but he was undeterred as he broke the deadlock with a fine glancing header after outjumping Mike Williamson to meet Emmerson Boyce’s precise cross.
Wigan’s lead was doubled in the 15th minute as Jean Beausejour whipped over a devilish cross into the box which Fabricio Coloccini could not clear, and Moses was again on hand to slam the ball home in emphatic fashion.
Newcastle came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit five minutes later as Hatem Ben Arfa’s exquisite free kick beat the Wigan wall and goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, but the ball cannoned off the stanchion with the travelling supporters up out of their seats in premature celebration.
The visitors almost contrived to gift the hosts a third on the half hour mark, to Pardew’s dismay, as Danny Simpson and Davide Santon inexplicably left a loose ball to each other with Di Santo lurking ominously nearby, but eventually the Italian managed to punt away to safety.
Four minutes later, it was three: James McArthur and James McCarthy combined in the Newcastle half to good effect, before Maloney cut incisively in from the left and unleashed a low drive to beat the helpless Krul.
Newcastle’s defensives travails were compounded by their lack of potency in attack, and the usually reliable Demba Ba scuffed a shot he would normally be expected to bury as he raced through on goal near the end of the first half.
The forward would be made to pay for his profligacy once more as Wigan scored a fourth on the stroke of half-time: Beausejour found Di Santo on the edge of the penalty area, and the striker picked out the top corner with a sublime finish as Krul was comprehensively beaten.
Within seven minutes of the restart, the hugely impressive Maynor Figueroa made a barnstorming run down the left and cut inside, only for Coloccini to make an impeccable last-gasp sliding challenge to spare his side’s blushes.
The rampant Moses looked certain to grab his hat-trick just after the hour mark as he hammered a fierce shot on target from close range as the ball dropped to him inside the Newcastle box, but Krul saved superbly to deny him.
It was then Al Habsi’s turn to produce heroics for his side as he parried away a vicious volley from Papiss Cisse, before the striker struck the crossbar with a curled effort after having beaten the offside trap with a perfectly timed run.
If Newcastle sought resounding confirmation that this was not their day, it came in the 71st minute as Cisse hit the woodwork for the second time after meeting Ben Arfa’s stunning cross with a firm header as Al Habsi was left to kiss his near post in gratitude.
But Wigan came closest to adding a fifth goal late on as substitute Conor Sammon was picked out brilliantly by fellow replacement Gomez, before the forward took the ball past Krul, but Coloccini cleared off the line with a desperate, sprawling lunge.
This was only Wigan’s fourth home win of the season, but the three points could prove decisive in their scrap for Premier League survival, while Newcastle endured a torrid day as their hopes of securing a Champions League spot suffered a blip.