Hoolahan buries Latics
Norwich 2 Wigan
Norwich manager Chris Hughton hailed the contribution of Wes Hoolahan after the Republic of Ireland playmaker celebrated signing a new contract with the winning goal in his side's 2-1 Premier League victory over Wigan at Carrow Road.
The Canaries made it five successive home league victories to continue their remarkable run of 10 Premier League matches unbeaten.
Anthony Pilkington set the home side on their way with a well-taken effort after 15 minutes, only for Wigan substitute Shaun Maloney to level at the start of the second half. However, Hoolahan, who has agreed an extension to stay at the Norfolk club until 2015, arrived on queue after 64 minutes to head past Ali Al-Habsi.
"Fortunately for us Wes has signed a new deal and he has earned it, and not just for this season," said Hughton. "He was excellent today and to see Wes get a headed goal was worth the entrance fee alone. Wes capped off a really good all-round team performance."
Norwich should have put the game beyond the visitors, who were again hampered by injuries, but were thwarted by a string of fine saves from the Latics stopper. "We made a bit of hard work for ourselves, but I thought over the 90 minutes we thoroughly deserved it."
Norwich's remarkable run – they have not lost in the Premier League since defeat at Chelsea on October 6 – has seen them climb up to seventh in the table. Hughton maintained it was all about keeping a safe distance from any relegation dogfight, with games against West Brom, Chelsea and Manchester City over the hectic festive schedule.
"It is not being negative, but for a club like ourselves, it is about keeping as big as gap as you can between us and down," said Hughton. The Latics' job was not made any easier following an ankle injury to midfielder James McCarthy, who was replaced at half-time following a crunching tackle by Bradley Johnson.
"It was a nasty challenge, one incident off the ball," Roberto Martinez said. "Our start was sluggish and pedestrian, we were very, very, very poor and had our goalkeeper to thank for keeping us in the game. I felt with our second-half performance we merited something out of the game, but it was a self-inflicted defeat."