Wigan win thriller
Hat-tricks from Bent and Santa Cruz
Last Updated: 15/12/07 5:31pm
Wigan ran out 5-3 winners to record their first league victory since August in this amazing game from the JJB Stadium.
The home side raced to a three goal lead with efforts from Denny Landzaat, Marcus Bent and Paul Scharner.
But Blackburn drew level thanks to a fantastic Roque Santa Cruz hat-trick either side of half-time.
Bent then added two more goals to get his own hat-trick and secure three vital points for Wigan in their battle against the drop.
Blackburn's Brett Emerton was unlucky to be sent-off for two bookable offences.
The omens were not good for the Latics, who had never beaten Blackburn, losing seven of their eight meetings - yet it was the home side who made a flying start, Ryan Taylor testing Brad Friedel with a well-struck free-kick after three minutes.
The game was being played at a frantic pace and Santa Cruz fired David Bentley's cross over at the other end.
But Wigan deservedly went ahead in the 10th minute when a static Rovers defence allowed Landzaat to race through unchallenged onto Emile Heskey's flick before beating Friedel low to his left for his second goal in a week.
Two minutes later and more shocking defending saw Bent completely out-muscle Ryan Nelsen, leaving him on the deck before firing across Friedel and into the net.
Rovers were then handed a lifeline by a controversial penalty decision after 22
minutes. From a corner, referee Mark Clattenburg decided Heskey had manhandled Chris Samba and pointed to the spot.
However, Benni McCarthy saw his effort brilliantly turned behind by Chris
Kirkland, diving low to his right.
Heskey was giving Samba a torrid time and earned the free-kick through which Wigan scored their third.
Taylor curled it in from the left edge of the box and Scharner ran in unchallenged to power home a header.
Santa Cruz then pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage-time when his stunning volley from the edge of the box flew into the net.
His first-half strike became even more crucial five minutes into the second period when the Paraguayan made it 3-2. Wigan failed to deal with Emerton's right-wing cross, which cannoned off Steven Reid and eventually fell for Santa Cruz to volley home from point-blank range.
Wigan's task became easier in the 57th minute when Emerton was shown his second yellow card of the game for scything down Taylor. Only frantic Rovers defending saw the home side fail to turn in the resulting free-kick.
Completing the comeback now looked an impossible task for the visitors but
Santa Cruz had other ideas. Given the freedom of the penalty area just past the hour mark, he completed his first Rovers' hat-trick by nodding in Stephen Warnock's left-wing cross.
There was no let-up, Bent putting the home side back in front in the 66th minute when he stole in to head home Antonio Valencia's cross.
Santa Cruz was nearly the hero again when he headed over a corner from six yards.
But with less than 10 minutes remaining, Bent completed his own treble to surely end Rovers' resistance. Valencia's ball caught out the visiting defence once again and Aghahowa raced clear before squaring for his partner to tap into an empty net.
Santa Cruz refused to yield and almost made it 5-4 in a goalmouth scramble, but Wigan held on for the win.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|3||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||6|
|3||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|5||West Ham United||18||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||18||17|