Sunderland continue impressive recent Premier League form with 3-2 win at Wigan
Last Updated: 21/01/13 9:09am
Steven Fletcher: Scored twice for Sunderland
Wigan Athletic's Premier League relegation fears increased at the DW Stadium on Saturday as they suffered a 3-2 defeat to Sunderland.
Best of the Match:
- Goal of the match: Steven Fletcher's second was superb. Fletcher flicked on Craig Gardner's free kick to Adam Johnson. The Scottish striker spun and when he received the lay off from Johnson finished in style and left Al Habsi with no chance.
- Save of the match: Wigan's best player Shaun Maloney managed to find some space early in the second half. His strike was stopped brilliantly by Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal. At 3-1 to Sunderland if that had gone in so early in the second half we may have witnessed a great comeback.
- Moment of the match: Mignolet's save to stop Wigan getting closer to Sunderland was key.
- Man of the match: Steven Fletcher. Led the line brilliantly at times for his side and scored two good goals.
Martin O'Neill's men looked to be cruising home at the break after they had replied to David Vaughan's early own goal with a Craig Gardner penalty followed by Steven Fletcher's impressive one-two before Angelo Henriquez's header set up a tense finish.
The early signs were not good for Sunderland, who went behind after just four minutes thanks to Vaughan's own-goal. Ronnie Stam could barely have met Jean Beausejour's dangerous cross with any less conviction, drilling a weak shot straight into the ground.
Sunderland should have escaped but, when James McCarthy flicked the ball into Vaughan, the midfielder could only prod it past Simon Mignolet and over the line.
O'Neill's men soon shrugged off the disappointment, although it required a slice of good luck to help them on their way.
For, had Stam not slipped under no pressure deep inside his own half, Emmerson Boyce would not have needed to foul Adam Johnson. From the resulting free-kick, Sebastian Larsson's shot was blocked by McCarthy's elbow and a penalty was awarded.
Gardner kept his cool to send Ali Al Habsi the wrong way and, within three minutes, the visitors were in front.
New boy Alfred N'Diaye was the architect, peeling out to the left flank before crossing deep to Fletcher, who quickly volleyed home from close range after Al Habsi had repelled his initial header.
Then, getting the slightest of touches to Gardner's deep free-kick, Fletcher was on hand three minutes before half-time when Johnson knocked it back to curl home a first-time shot in magnificent fashion as Al Habsi remained rooted to the spot.
It was Fletcher's sixth in seven games against Wigan and was exactly what Sunderland's dominance deserved and triggered a chorus of boos for the hosts at the break, plus the introduction of Honduran new-boy Roger Espinoza.
Wigan returned in more positive mood and Shaun Maloney drew an excellent save out of Mignolet after racing onto James McArthur's flick.
As it was, the hosts still had hope when Henriquez was introduced and the on-loan Manchester United man quickly netted his first goal in English football as Maloney seized on some slack Sunderland defending and delivered a perfect far post cross.
Wigan piled forward in search of an equaliser, with Espinoza particularly impressive but, for all their hard work, it would not come, with Mauro Boselli nodding their best chance over.
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Wigan v Sunderland
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has admitted that defensive back-up is desperately needed to help their survival battle.