Bramble blunder costs Wigan
Johnson punishes defender's painful gaffe
By James Dall. Last Updated: 20/01/08 5:12pm
Lescott: Decisive second
Titus Bramble's first-half error proved costly for Wigan Athletic as Everton ran out 2-1 victors at the JJB Stadium.
Steve Bruce's men were by far the better side in the first period but they were twice punished for their slack defending, with Andy Johnson and Joleon Lescott both on target for the away side.
The opener came on 39 minutes when Bramble made a complete mess of a backpass, allowing Johnson to run in on goal before slotting coolly through Chris Kirkland's legs.
It took The Toffees just three minutes to double their lead as a completely unmarked Lescott smashed home from close range.
Wigan did hit back in the second period when Jason Koumas' deep free-kick ricocheted off the unfortunate Phil Jagielka, but it was not enough for The Latics and, despite a brief spell of pressure, Everton ran out 2-1 winners.
The Latics played some excellent football in the first half, but were guilty of not taking some decent opportunities.
Chances were frequent, sparked by Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios curling a right-foot shot inches wide after just 60 seconds.
Palacios provided a left-wing ball into the near post for Emile Heskey that again fell agonisingly the wrong side of the post in the eighth minute.
After Chris Kirkland had saved a drive from Mikel Arteta, Wigan should then have taken the lead with two chances inside three minutes.
But first Tim Howard tipped onto the bar a powerful header from Marcus Bent after he had risen unchallenged to a Valencia corner.
Soon after a loose ball ran into Valencia's path for a first-time goal-bound drive that was bravely blocked by Tim Cahill as he threw his body in the way.
On the half-hour mark Wigan were on top, but just 13 minutes later they were stunned and staring at a 2-0 deficit.
Johnson had previously hooked one half-chance over the bar, while another opportunity he had fired through the six-yard box prior to finally getting his name on the scoresheet in the 39th minute.
Winning the ball off Palacios inside the Everton half, Arteta sprayed a pass down the right wing for Johnson to chase.
Although Bramble managed to get there first, he horrendously sliced his attempted back pass, allowing Johnson to run on and nutmeg the advancing Kirkland.
Three minutes later Everton doubled their lead as Wigan failed to clear their lines from a corner, culminating in Lescott tapping home a Jagielka pass at the far post.
It resulted in the 52nd-minute arrivals of Antoine Sibierski for Heskey, and with Denny Landzaat replaced by Jason Koumas - who made an instant impact.
With his first touch of the ball seconds after his arrival, the midfielder delivered a piercing free-kick into the heart of the area.
The ball skimmed off the head of Bramble who had beaten Howard to the punch, dropping onto Jagielka and ricocheting off the centre-back and over the line, so halving the deficit.
With the Latics' confidence restored, Everton then weathered a storm for more than 10 minutes as Wigan tried in vain to grab the equaliser.
Instead, the visitors almost restored their two-goal cushion in the 67th minute when a Leon Osman half-volley from 15 yards shaved the left-hand post.
With a last throw of the dice, Bruce threw on another striker in Julius Aghahowa for Michael Brown eight minutes from time, but the equaliser never materialised.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Everton|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|1||Shots on Target||3|
|11||Shots off Target||9|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|