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A last-minute goal by striker Arouna Kone earned Wigan Athletic a crucial 2-1 victory against Newcastle United in a dramatic encounter at the DW Stadium.
Jean Beasejour's first-half goal had been cancelled by Davide Santon with 18 minutes to go only for Kone to snatch a vital close-range goal in a goalmouth scramble in the 90th minute.
It was hard luck on the Magpies, whose miserable afternoon was compounded by the loss of two left-backs to injury with Mathieu Debuchy limping off in the first half with a hamstring injury, only for his replacement Massadio Haidara to leave the field on a stretcher after a high tackle by Callum McManaman.
Newcastle had dominated the opening 15 minutes of the match but had only Steven Taylor's header - saved by Joel Robles on his Barclays Premier League debut - to show for their efforts as a lack of pace to their attacks meant their hosts were rarely troubled.
By then Wigan's passing game had clicked into gear and within minutes from them establishing their rhythm they opened the scoring in the 18th minute. McManaman flew down the right wing, crossed from the right and although Kone missed his header Santon struggled to deal with the loose ball and Beasejour fired through the legs of goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
Unfortunately for him McManaman's next contribution was his over-zealous challenge on Haidara, which resulted in a potentially serious knee injury to the Frenchman, who was taken to hospital, and a tactical headache for manager Alan Pardew
The only efforts of note in the remainder of the half saw Shaun Maloney's low effort tipped away by Elliot before Papiss Cisse volleyed over from six yards after Paul Scharner inadvertently headed back towards his own goal.
McManaman had the chance to mark his full debut with a goal just before his in the 58th-minute withdrawal, but his shot was blocked by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Newcastle slowly began to find their feet and on 72 minutes exploited two uncharacteristic errors in possession from Wigan. Shaun Maloney, on the right touchline, and then Scharner, gave the ball away and it was shifted from Cisse to Santon who fired in an angled shot.
Cisse had a late shot deflected wide by Robles but just when it seemed a draw was inevitable Kone pounced in a goalmouth melee from a corner after the visitors repeatedly failed to clear their lines.
The victory was crucial for third-bottom Wigan, whose match in hand is at Manchester City, as nearest rivals Aston Villa and Southampton both won at the weekend.
Wigan Athetic manager Roberto Martinez: "Three points at this stage of the season is huge. We went through a period where we have to score a second goal otherwise it becomes difficult. But I could not be prouder of the character - especially at this stage of the season. Without scoring the second goal when we were leading 1-0, we found a way to win. The character was magnificent. They were very strong with good individual players who are a real threat.
"I don't feel we have had any luck whatsoever this season and the way we work I think we deserved that luck. We had so many opportunities and we couldn't find the final pass so we made it difficult, but we found a way to win and that pleased me."
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew: "In all honesty it's difficult to take and difficult to talk about at this stage. All I would say is my team have put in an honest performance and actually we're very, very unlucky to come away with nothing."
|30 Mar 2013||v Norwich (H)|
|07 Apr 2013||v QPR (A)|
|17 Apr 2013||v Man City (A)|
|20 Apr 2013||v West Ham (A)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Tottenham (H)|
|04 May 2013||v West Brom (A)|