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Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka struck as Everton maintained their Champions League challenge at the expense of an enterprising but luckless Wigan Athletic at a rain-sodden Goodison Park.
Osman broke the deadlock with a deflected opener early in the second half before Phil Neville marked his 500th Barclays Premier League appearance by setting up Jagielka for the second. Arouna Kone gave Wigan a late lifeline but it was not enough for the visitors, despite a hard-working display.
A large group of Wigan fans came in banana costume, in keeping with their town's Boxing Day tradition of fancy dress. But the party will be limited to town centre revellers after a sixth game for the Latics passed without a win.
Everton, who will now hope to push on and mount a strong top-four challenge, had some good chances, not least when Thomas Hitzlsperger hit the bar. The home side almost made the perfect start as Nikica Jelavic laid off a Darron Gibson cross and Victor Anichebe flashed a shot wide with just 13 seconds on the clock.
Wigan also wanted to attack and a Jean Beausejour cross aimed at Kone was clutched by Tim Howard at the second attempt. The influential James McCarthy also had a powerful effort from outside the area blocked.
Leighton Baines created a chance for Everton when he skipped over a challenge from Ronnie Stam to supply Steven Pienaar and Ali Al Habsi did well to turn his shot around a post. Anichebe headed wide from a Hitzlsperger cross but Wigan began to assert themselves in the game more as McCarthy and James McArthur drove forward.
Kone and Maloney linked up well outside the area but attempted one pass too many and a promising attack broke down. Maloney tried his luck from a free-kick after McCarthy was tripped by Gibson - who was free to play after appealing against his red card at West Ham last weekend - but Howard parried and then gathered.
Howard was in action again as Stam struck a low shot from 20 yards but saved comfortably. Everton applied some pressure by winning a series of corners in quick succession and felt they should have had penalties at two of them.
Anichebe first claimed he was being held back by Beausejour and then there was an appeal for handball against Maloney but referee Mason gave nothing. The first half came to a tame end but Everton returned with renewed vigour after the break and were soon rewarded.
Wigan were given a warning when Hitzlsperger struck a thunderous long-range effort against the bar and then Osman dribbled his way through the area only to fail to test Al Habsi.
Osman got lucky when he next aimed for goal after 52 minutes, his shot from just outside the area striking Caldwell's arm and wrongfooting Al Habsi. Wigan tried to respond and Maloney went to ground in the area in a challenge from Osman but no foul was awarded. Kone had a good opportunity from six yards after Maloney whipped in a good ball from the right but Neville made a vital block at point-blank range.
It was a miss the visitors were to rue as Everton grabbed a decisive second 13 minutes from time. Neville was on hand to receive a short corner from substitute Bryan Oviedo and marked his landmark appearance by sending in an inch-perfect cross for Jagielka, who powered in a header off the bar.
But Wigan, as ever, fought on and gave themselves late hope when Kone bundled the ball in at close range after Jagielka and Baines failed to clear from a Maloney shot. The visitors applied more pressure as time ran out but were unable to find a way through stubborn Everton defending.
Everton manager David Moyes: "Wigan played well and I have to give them credit. They will do the same to most teams and they don't get enough credit for the way they pass the ball and the way they play.
"I thought before half-time we were starting to look the better side but we are never comfortable because of the way Wigan play. We just raised it a bit at half-time and it made the difference.
"The big thing was when Ossie [Leon Osman} went into the middle of the park - it made us play better. He has got happy feet. He danced through and got a shot away, obviously it took a bit of a deflection. The second one was a good header. It was about time a centre-half scored a goal and I'm glad Jags [Phil Jagielka] got it."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez: "I'm frustrated and angry. It is a moment of the season where results are starting to be very important. We knew we were coming to a difficult place but the way we played the first half, I thought we stopped them from having any momentum.
"We were starting to get into a good position to get a positive result and actions in both boxes cost us. We need to make sure we don't rely on third parties - we don't rely on decisions to get positive results.
"We will learn from it. It is not good enough just to play well in the Premier League, whichever ground you are playing at. If we need to play extra well to get a positive result, that is what we have got to do."
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