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Wigan Athletic lifted themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone in spectacular style with a convincing win over 10-man Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Arouna Kone's double at the end of the first half was quickly followed by a Maynor Figueroa goal after the restart to seal a second win in 14 Premier League games for the visitors.
Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak was shown a straight red card after 55 minutes for a reckless challenge on Figueroa and Roberto Martinez's side grabbed a victory to inspire belief they could yet again avoid the drop.
The Royals controlled possession for the majority of the opening half but were indebted to a pair of Adam Federici saves before they fell behind.
The Australian was first called into action after just four minutes when Franco Di Santo expertly rolled Jem Karacan in midfield before firing a low shot that Federici turned wide.
Reading pssed up their best chance to score of the half moments later when an unmarked Hope Akpan headed over Karacan's cross from six yards.
Brian McDermotts's side had further chances to go ahead with Jimmy Kebe flashing an angled shot into the side-netting and Akpan shooting wide after he stole the ball off James McArthur. Paul Scharner also did well to keep the scores level with a perfectly-timed sliding challenge to deny Pogrebnyak as he looked certain to turn in a low Kebe cross.
It was Reading's last chance before the game was taken away from them in spectacular style.
In an open match Federici had made a second good save, reacting well to Kone's poked shot, before he was left exposed for the opener soon after.
Gary Caldwell was unchecked from a corner and while he missed the chance, the ball bounced to Figueroa whose shot was going in before taking a deflection off Kone's back near the line.
Kone knew little about his opener but his second was a goal to remember.
After Sean Morrison lost the ball, Jean Beausejour delivered a defence-splitting pass to find Kone's run. The striker still had the onrushing Federici to beat but nervelessly chipped his shot over him and into the net.
McDermott responded by bringing top-scorer Adam Le Fondre on at the break.
Le Fondre has made a knack of stealing points for the Royals off the bench but the game was beyond such heroics within 10 minutes of his introduction.
Figueroa made it 3-0 moments after the restart as he exchanged passes with Di Santo and fired his shot through the legs of Federici.
Yet more punishment awaited for Reading, as Pogrebnyak was given his marching orders after a challenge on Figueroa.
The damage could have been greater with Di Santo twice inches away from grabbing a fourth as he narrowly failed to get his outstretched leg to crosses from Figueroa and Beausejour.
The former Chelsea striker then shot over before he was replaced by Jordi Gomez - who scored a hat-trick when Wigan won 3-2 in the reverse fixture in November.
Federici palmed away a well-hit shot from Figueroa, who was now enjoying bombing forward from full-back, while Beausejour headed over, but the score would remain 3-0.
Reading manager Brian McDermott: "It was a bad day. They've had a good day and we've had a bad day. The first 43 minutes there wasn't too much in the game. If Jimmy [Kebe] scores then maybe it's a different game. The goal changes the game. They got a real spring in their step once they scored.
"But we didn't do the right things at the right time. We didn't get the details right. There are plenty of things you can look at. I'm going to move on quickly from that game. It's the only thing you can do in a situation like that. We've got 11 games to go now. We'll have a lot of good days in those 11, hopefully."
Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez: "We are disappointed with the points tally that we have got. We need to get more points on a consistent basis. Today we came into a game which is a massive, massive relegation battle I thought we were composed and able to enjoy our football. We limited Reading to no shots on goal in the game and that is a real compliment.
"The quality of our attacking play was also a real difference. We've been showing that this season but we've never had that clinical way of defending and keeping a clean sheet. That's why I am so pleased with the performance.
"I think we've played much better than last season. I think we've been very consistent in terms of performances. We've improved in every department from being able to keep clean sheets and defend well. In football you are as good as your results and unfortunately we haven't been able to represent our performances with results.
"You look at the goals as well. The first is a set-piece but the two after are as good as you are going to see. If we had have done that previously in the season we would be in a much better position."
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|16 Mar 2013||v Man Utd (A)|
|30 Mar 2013||v Arsenal (A)|
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|13 Apr 2013||v Liverpool (H)|