Tony Mowbray would probably have viewed the visit of Liverpool with similar dread reserved for a trip to the dentist a month ago, but now it will prove pivotal in his attempts to secure a miraculous escape for West Bromwich Albion.
The chances of Premier League survival at the Hawthorns remain slim and it will require Mowbray (right) to better Bryan Robson's rescue act in 2005. But with two games to go optimism is building at Albion and two successive home victories have given them hope of another great getaway.
This convincing victory was typical West Brom. Enterprising, attractive football overshadowed by the sort of defending that would make their manager, an uncompromising centre-half in his playing days, wince on the touchline. But suddenly the visit of Liverpool next Sunday has taken on more significance than simply Rafa Benitez's bid to prise the title away from Manchester United.
The West Bromwich manager said: "I don't want to sit here and be the ultimate optimist because we could all be down in the dumps next Sunday and people would be telling me that it was inevitable.
"I've never written us off," Mowbray added. "They've tried to write us off for months but I know what's in our dressing room and today was a classic case of that. Players have had to deal with the negativity of 200-1 [against staying up] splashed across Sky every day.
"This was the day, the mentality to use that and spin it on its head and keep fighting, they got their rewards in the end."
Wigan are kicking their heels waiting for the season to end and they fell behind to Marc-Antoine Fortuné's close-range effort in the eighth minute before hauling themselves level through Hugo Rodallega's deflected free-kick.
But Albion deserved to extend their top-flight existence for another week and Chris Brunt's fifth goal in as many games, after his penalty was superbly repelled by substitute goalkeeper Richard Kingson, put them in command before the impressive Fortuné secured three precious points.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; Zuiverloon, Martis, Olsson, Cech (Donk, 74); Brunt, Dorrans (Mulumbu, 55), Greening, Valero; Menseguez (Simpson, 87), Fortuné. Substitutes not used: Allsopp (gk), Bednar, Kim, Teixeira.
Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland (Kingson, 10); Melchiot, Bramble, Scharner, Figueroa; Valencia, Cattermole, Brown, N'Zogbia (Zaki, 70; De Ridder 81); Kapo, Rodallega. Substitutes not used: Edman, Watson, Koumas, Boyce.
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).
Booked: West Bromwich Greening, Valero.
Man of the match: Fortuné.
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