A Franco Di Santo double for Wigan gave home manager Roberto Martinez all three points against a spirited but limited Queens Park Rangers side.
Wigan were forced to change the starting line up from the side which secured a draw at Swansea last week, the injured Alcaraz replaced by the returning Lopez and talismanic striker Rodallega occupying the left wing position in a midfield re-shuffle which saw McCarthy relegated to the bench and Gomez moved from the wing to an attacking midfield role.
Rangers made their intentions clear from the off when in the first minute , former Wigan centre half Fitz Hall came through the back of Di Santo, a tackle which if later in the game would have surely earned a booking. Within another minute Hall had committed a second foul. From the resultant free kick , Gomez beat the wall but Paddy Kenny had the shot comfortably in sight and the ball went harmlessly past the post.
Wigan looked a more balanced side with Rodallega on the wing and with Di Santo playing with increased confidence, Rangers were under pressure for large parts of the first half. Watson was his usual effective self in midfield sand with Boyce looking to push up the right side to provide the overlap at every opportunity it seemed only a matter of time before Wigan scored.
All too often however, the final ball went astray and when Wigan did shoot on target they were once again defeated by the woodwork. This week it was Moses who cut in from the right wing turning the Ranger’s defence inside and out and shooting across the goal when a cross to the supporting Rodallega or Di Santo seemed the better option, however the ball flew across the goal, hit the post and bounced to freedom.
For the away side their most dangerous player was the coveted Taarabt who forced Al Habsi into a good save onto the post from a deflected shot. Another deflected shot from a powerful free kick from Shaun Derry was well saved by Al Habsi.
Ranger’s best chance of scoring appeared to be from mistakes by the home side, too casual passes by Caldwell and Diame let in Agyemang . Fortunately for Wigan the striker was too slow to take advantage and Watson came to the rescue.
Wigan’s opening goal came at the end of a period of sustained pressure, Moses played a good ball in from the wing, Di Santo controlled the ball superbly and fired an unstoppable shot past the flailing arms of Kenny in the goal.
Rangers tried to secure an equaliser before half time and when Caldwell committed a foul on the edge of the area , Taarabt once again forced Al Habsi into a good save.
Both sides emerged unchanged in the second half and Wigan continued their dominance in the second half with Gomez growing into the game and some neat flicks enabling the marauding Diame to push forward.
At the back Lopez was an assured replacement for Alcaraz and produced two clean but bone rattling tackles on the Rangers’ forwards.
Wigan’s second goal came just as Martinez was readying to make a double substitution, a lose ball on the edge of the area fell between Rodallega and Di Santo with the former seemingly best place. Di Santo had other ideas, almost taking the ball off the Columbian’s foot he swilled and hit a powerful shot which was deflected into the net leaving Paddy Kenny stranded.
Di Santo along with the tiring Moses was then substituted by Sammon and McArthur respectively and Wigan opted to defend deeper allowing Rangers to exert their first real pressure of the game. Their lack of quality fit strikers was exposed as when they did beat the resolute back line of Wigan they were incapable of putting the ball in the net.
Wigan opted to try and catch Rangers on the break and Sammon wasted a few good breaks with either poor ball control or wasted passes, Rodallega continued his excellent game, giving the Ranger’s defence a torrid time but he was unable to open his account for the season.
The full time whistle brought a resounding roar of approval from the home fans and Roberto Martinez can be well satisfied with his team’s performance today.
Man of the Match
Hugo Rodallega, his evident class was there for all to see today, provided excellent support to Di Santo and was a constant threat all afternoon.
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