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Wigan kickstart survival mission



Published 24/02/2013 | 04:00

Wigan's traditional late-season surge towards safety may have begun, as they lifted themselves out of the drop zone with a crushing victory over relegation rivals Reading.

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Wigan's traditional late-season surge towards safety may have begun, as they lifted themselves out of the drop zone with a crushing victory over relegation rivals Reading.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez said his team's performance was "perfect", as they won a league match for the first time since the turn of the year. Victory saw them leapfrog their opponents and Aston Villa, to climb into 17th position.

For Reading, it was a humiliating afternoon and, to add insult to injury, they finished the game with 10 men, after striker Pavel Pogrebnyak was dismissed for a cynical trip on Maynor Figueroa.

Wigan are masters of escape acts and will be increasingly optimistic of engineering yet another one, especially as they are now four points better off than they were at this stage last season.

If they continue to display the ruthlessness they showed here, there is no reason why they should not extend their Premier League stay into a ninth consecutive year. Martinez said: "I thought the quality of our attacking play was the real difference. That attacking composure, that attacking quality was very, very pleasing.

"We've been showing it this season, but we never had that clinical way of defending and keeping a clean sheet. That's why I'm so, so pleased with the performance. To have the quality that we showed on the ball and the composure and the patience, added to the clean sheet and that defensive intensity, that was the difference of maybe looking at a very comfortable win, when the reality is we had to be perfect in what we did."

After both sides had wasted good chances in the opening half, Wigan took the lead shortly before the interval. Gary Caldwell got free from Jean Beausejour's corner and bundled the ball towards the back post. Reading claimed he used his arm, but referee Phil Dowd allowed play to continue, and Figueroa's goal-bound header brushed in off Arouna Kone at close range.

"It definitely shouldn't have been given. I spoke to Caldwell and he said himself he's handballed it. Unfortunately, the ref hasn't seen it," Reading manager Brian McDermott said.

Wigan doubled their advantage in added time at the end of the first half.

Beausejour produced a contender for pass of the season, striking a diagonal through ball from the halfway line that fell straight into the path of Kone.

The striker raced down the inside right channel before delicately lifting the ball over Royals' keeper Adam Federici.

Wigan took advantage of more slack Reading defending after half-time, as Figueroa and Franco Di Santo cut through the back-line with a neat one-two, allowing the former to slot home the third.

The Royals' day then went from bad to worse, as they lost Pogrebnyak to a straight red card.

Dowd's decision to send the striker off appeared harsh, but McDermott said he had no plans to appeal. "He's mistimed the tackle and caught him," he said.

"The ref's got to read it as a yellow or a red, and he decided it's a red. They have had a really good day and we have had a bad day."


Irish Independent

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