Ba brace sinks Latics
Demba Ba served up a timely reminder of his potency to end Newcastle's wait for a Barclays Premier League victory in a 3-0 win against 10-man Wigan.
The 27-year-old's first-half double ended a run of four successive league defeats for the injury-hit Magpies on a day when it emerged that the club's ongoing efforts to renegotiate his contract to dispense with a troublesome release-clause are yet to pay dividends.
Alan Pardew's men were aided in by the controversial 12th-minute dismissal of Honduras international Maynor Figueroa by referee Mike Jones, who later opted not to send off Gary Caldwell for what looked like a second bookable offence. Substitute Gael Bigirimana's superb first goal for the club cemented just a second league win in 10 games for Newcastle.
There were 12 minutes on the clock when Vurnon Anita picked out Ba and he slid the ball into the run of strike partner Papiss Cisse. Figueroa came across to challenge the Senegal international, who ended up in a heap on the ground with Jones interpreting his intervention as a penalty offence.
Having made that decision, he then had little option but to dismiss the defender and with the Wigan bench still furiously arguing their case - and wing-back Jean Beausejour having been booked for his protests - Ba thumped the spot-kick low to keeper Ali Al Habsi's right to open the scoring.
Figueroa's premature departure changed the shape of the contest as the Magpies increased their advantage. Davide Santon headed forward in determined fashion with 21 minutes gone before cutting inside and unleashing a right-foot piledriver which Al Habsi simply could not handle, and Ba was in the right place at the right time to tap home.
The game might have been effectively over nine minutes before the break when Wigan skipper Caldwell, who had earlier been cautioned for a crude tackle from behind on Ba, felled the same man on the edge of the penalty area but Jones was generous in the extreme as he awarded only a free-kick.
Caldwell was conspicuous by his absence as the sides returned for the second half with Adrian Lopez having taken his place, while Cheick Tiote, who had picked up a knock, was replaced by Bigirimana. Pardew was forced to make a second change minutes of the restart when Santon limped off and was replaced by Shane Ferguson.
Sylvain Marveaux, enjoying perhaps his best night yet in a black and white shirt, turned provider four minutes later to set up Bigirimana, whose side-footed effort was saved by Al Habsi, and Cisse sent a dipping 59th-minute effort over the bar.
However, the former Coventry midfielder was not to be denied and when Marveaux found him wide on the right with 19 minutes remaining, he cut inside to curl a fine left-foot shot past the keeper and inside the far post.