N'Zogbia offers Wigan survival hope

Blackpool 1 Wigan 3
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The Independent Football

The good news for Steve Bruce as he prepares to make a fresh attempt to sign Charles N'Zogbia this summer is that the Wigan winger is back to his very best. The bad news for Bruce is that N'Zogbia's next game is against his free-falling Sunderland team.

No sooner had N'Zogbia helped propel Wigan off the foot of the table, and out of the bottom three, than he was licking his lips at the prospect of turning the heat up on Bruce, his former Wigan manager who is keen to add the former Newcastle United player to his squad.

"Maybe before it was hard to play against Sunderland, but now is a good time to be facing them," said N'Zogbia, who inspired his side to victory by scoring one goal and creating another.

"We have to look at it as a game we have to win," he added. "We knew we had to win most of the games we had left, and defeating Blackpool is a great start. We are in a great position and we just have to believe in ourselves and try to win every game." The last time Wigan were out of the relegation zone, 10 weeks ago, Blackpool were 15th in the table with a four-point safety cushion. Yet, with five games remaining, Ian Holloway's team find themselves in the bottom three for the first time with away matches against Champions League-chasing Tottenham and leaders Manchester United, on the final day, to come.

Wigan never looked back after Hugo Rodallega, now the club's all-time leading Premier League scorer, took advantage of Craig Cathcart's third-minute slip. N'Zogbia, who had threaded the pass for Rodallega to score, then added a second in first-half stoppage time after a delightful run.

Blackpool's misery was complete when Neal Eardley deflected Mohamed Diame's long-range shot past his own keeper, D J Campbell's late goal proving nothing more than a consolation for a Blackpool side who have now lost five of the last six.

Wigan's players greeted the final whistle as though they had beaten relegation. Holloway, the Blackpool manager, suggested it was too early to celebrate.

And he might have a point as Wigan have gone more than two years since recording back-to-back league wins. "We've got to show the right character and it will be a wonderful party if and when we do stay up," Holloway said. "But if I was Wigan, I wouldn't be having a party yet."

Scorers: Blackpool Campbell 83. Wigan Rodallega 3, N'Zogbia 45, Eardley (og) 67. Subs: Blackpool Phillips (Grandin, 58), Beattie (Taylor-Fletcher 58), Puncheon (Varney, 59). Wigan Sammon (N'Zogbia, 77), Gomez (Diame, 80). Booked: Blackpool Crainey, Evatt. Wigan McCarthy, Rodallega. Man of the match N'Zogbia. Match rating 7/10.

Attempts on target: Blackpool 9 Wigan 5.

Ref P Walton (Northants). Att 16,030.