The match was sponsored by the Everton Former Players' Foundation, which seemed to be rubbing it in after a month in which Goodison's foundations have been so undermined by Joleon Lescott's determination to be among that number.
But the club find themselves released from their early-season purgatory at last, even though David Moyes faces a difficult couple of days securing the two players he still wants. Defensive target Johnny Heitinga played for Atletico Madrid against Malaga at the weekend and, though Everton have agreed a £7.5m deal for the Dutchman, personal terms are yet to be settled. There is still some prospect of Valencia's Ever Banega arriving on a season's loan before tomorrow, but his appearance against Stabaek of Norway in the Europa League last week leaves him cup-tied. "I will be disappointed if we don't get another two in," Moyes said last night. "I've let four go so even to get back to the numbers of last season I need two."
But among the "Present Players' Foundation" Sylvain Distain, Lescott's £5m replacement, made a solid debut, and the new £9m Russian left-sided midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov got four minutes at the end, long enough to experience a grand old Everton finale and Leighton Baines' penalty three minutes into injury time, awarded after Emmerson Boyce had impeded the advancing Jo.
There was also proof for Moyes that those who have been found wanting in a start which had left Everton bottom of the Premier League can deliver a lot better. Marouane Fellaini, who may be the man to make way for Bilyaletdinov, was one of three or four players Moyes felt "needed a kick up the backside". Dropped to the bench, it was he who raised the tempo of Everton's play, shifted the balance in their favour and countered Wigan's physicality. "We've always thought the first six months of his second season were going to be the test for him," Moyes said. "I thought he made a big impact today."
The same can be said of Jack Rodwell, looking more assured and fluent with each appearance, though not Everton's defence, which still showed signs of porosity. The goal which sent Wigan ahead on 57 minutes was particularly bad from Everton's perspective, with Baines backing off to allow Charles N'Zogbia to cross left-footed and Tony Hibbert unaware of Paul Scharner's looming presence behind him as the Austrian stooped low to head it home unchallenged. It was only Wigan's second effort on target.
But Everton, who equalised within five minutes when Louis Saha headed in Baines' corner, had far more chances and, as Moyes insisted, were worth their first win. Even after securing the penalty, Jo managed to miss the chance of the match, blasting over Michael Pollitt in the dying seconds after Fellaini had sent him through on his own. Rodwell also blasted a good chance high and Tim Cahill headed over after Hibbert's fine cross.
Wigan's manager, Roberto Martinez, who lost goalkeeper Chris Kirkland to a back spasm, insisted he has not abandoned his aesthetic principles, despite a performance which saw six of his players booked and one of them, Hendry Thomas, even sliding in to up-end Moyes in his technical area. ("I thought his tackle on me was fine," Moyes joked.) Martinez was also unhappy with the penalty and suggested the referee, Lee Probert, the fourth official involved in the Arsène Wenger fiasco at Old Trafford, should not have refereed the game. "Maybe it wasn't ideal for him." But the Spaniard's opening day win at Aston Villa looks an eternity away and life looks less than ideal for him either.
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Osman (Fellaini, 70), Neville, Rodwell, Pienaar (Bilyaletdinov, 89); Saha (Jo, 71), Cahill. Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Gosling, Duffy, Agard.
Wigan Athletic: (4-2-31) Pollitt; Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa; N'Zogbia, Thomas (Cho, 74); Scharner, Diame (Scotland, 36), Gomez; Rodallega (Sinclair, 82). Substitutes not used: Kingson (gk), Edman, Koumas, King.
Referee: L Probert (Gloucestershire).
Booked: Everton Osman; Wigan Diame, Melchiot, Boyce, Thomas, N'Zogbia, Scharner.
Man of the match: Rodwell.
Attendance: 35,122.Reuse content