Newcastle hopes hit by Wigan rout
Victor Moses' early double set Wigan on their way to yet another big-time conquest as Roberto Martinez's men gave their survival hopes a mighty boost by brushing aside Champions League hopefuls Newcastle.
Moses' quick-fire brace in the 13th and 15th minutes left Alan Pardew's Magpies reeling and further first-half strikes from Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo ensured the buoyant Latics had effectively sealed the points before the break.
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Papiss Cisse twice hit the woodwork as the visitors rallied in the second half, but their hopes of holding down at least a top-four place in the Barclays Premier League had long since suffered a serious blow.
Having already beaten Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal on their extraordinary late-season run, Wigan were expected to start with confidence but not even the most optimistic of Latics could have foreseen their whirlwind opening.
The recalled Maloney spread panic with a free-kick in the second minute and Moses had already brought a save out of Tim Krul before the striker opened the scoring by rising above a static Danny Simpson to nod home an Emmerson Boyce cross.
And less than two minutes later the Latics extended their lead when Fabricio Coloccini made a mess of an attempted clearance from a Jean Beausejour cross, and Moses pounced again to drill a low shot past Krul.
In response, Hatem Ben Arfa drilled a dangerous-looking free-kick just over the Wigan bar and Cisse poked a poor effort at Ali Al Habsi from the edge of the box in what was the home keeper's first sight of the ball in the opening 23 minutes.
But Newcastle's uncharacteristic defensive clumsiness almost cost them again in the 34th minute when Simpson and Davide Santon hesitated over a harmless-looking cross from Moses, and Beausejour almost took advantage from close range.
Incredibly, Wigan extended their lead in the 36th minute when Di Santo fed Maloney on the left and the recalled midfielder fended off Simpson as he cut into the box to slide a low shot across Krul and into the bottom corner.
Ba bobbled Newcastle's best chance wide four minutes from the break then in first-half injury-time Wigan made it 4-0 when Di Santo directed a magnificent lob over Krul and into the top corner from 25 yards.
Wigan continued to press early in the second half, and when Figueroa sent in a low cross from the left in the 52nd minute only Coloccini's excellent interception denied Moses the chance to complete his hat-trick.
Moses screwed a rising shot just wide of Krul's left-hand and with the home side continuing to hunt for more goals, only a brilliant fingertip save from Krul denied the striker in a mighty penalty box melee on the hour.
Belatedly the visitors began to press, with Al Habsi producing a brilliant save to deny Cisse from 10 yards in the 63rd minute, and moments the later the same player firing a shot from the left side of the box which hit the bar.
Ben Arfa drilled a low shot just wide before Martinez made clear his intention to keep pushing for more goals, replacing the tiring Di Santo with another out-and-out striker in Conor Sammon in the 69th minute.
Cisse hit the woodwork for the second time in the 72nd minute when he slammed Al Habsi's left post with a header from a Ben Arfa cross, but with time running down the massed ranks of visiting fans behind Al Habsi's goal became resigned to a heavy defeat.
Sammon almost rewarded Martinez's bravery with a fifth for Wigan three minutes from time, with the striker beating the advancing Krul but seeing his dribble towards goal ended by a last-ditch interception from Coloccini.