Spurs struggle to match Wigan's energy

<b>Wigan 1 Tottenham 0</b>: Jermain Defoe's return to Tottenham from Portsmouth begins badly as Wigan's Maynor Figueroa snatched a late winner at the JJB Stadium
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The Independent Online

Jermain Defoe's return to Tottenham from Portsmouth began badly as Wigan's Maynor Figueroa snatched a late winner at the JJB Stadium.

The England striker, watched by national team boss Fabio Capello, did not have a single shot on goal as Spurs struggled to match their hosts' energy and invention.

In a game short on chances the breakthrough finally came in the 91st minute when left-back Figueroa headed home Ryan Taylor's corner.

It was the Honduran's first goal for the club since arriving last January and typified the spirit which manager Steve Bruce has engendered among his squad.

With Emile Heskey and Zaki returning after injury both lacked a little sharpness and so it was important other members of the side did their bit.

Figueroa's goal secured Wigan's fifth successive Barclays Premier League victory at the JJB Stadium and, on the balance of chances, deserved their win.

The visitors, with Ledley King in a holding role in front of the back four, began brightly but faded badly.

In the second minute, King's header from Jamie O'Hara's left-wing free-kick was half-saved by Chris Kirkland, with the goalkeeper turning Michael Dawson's follow-up behind.

Defoe's first real intervention saw him fouled by Titus Bramble on the left of the Wigan area but O'Hara screwed wide Luka Modric's free-kick.

Heurelho Gomes had to be quick off his line to boot away the ball under pressure from Heskey in the 11th minute while Zaki wasted a good opportunity when he delayed his shot too long and Michael Dawson came across to block.

Kirkland easily saved another Dawson header from O'Hara's cross as the visitors failed to make the most of their possession.

Around the half-hour mark, the balance of play swung and Wigan finished the half the stronger side.

Dawson had to concede a corner from Zaki's cross after being put through by a neat pass from Lee Cattermole, while Ryan Taylor was only inches over with his inswinging free-kick from the left angle of the penalty area.

Gareth Bale was booked in the 33rd minute for a late challenge on Antonio Valencia after the Ecuador winger had neatly turned the Spurs left-back and from Taylor's free-kick Zaki got in front of the defence but his glancing header went just wide.

Wilson Palacios was unlucky his overhead kick from the edge of the area from Heskey's knockdown went straight at Gomes, who in the 39th-minute had to smother a close-range effort from Heskey after Zaki had left Dawson trailing in his wake to swing over the cross.

Didier Zokora summed up the last 20 minutes of the half for Spurs when he blazed embarrassingly wide.

After watching his side struggle for a long spell Redknapp took just eight minutes of the second half to change things, replacing the ineffectual Roman Pavlyuchenko with Darren Bent.

Zaki escaped with just a talking to from referee Andre Marriner after his raised foot caught the stooping Dawson in the face in the 55th minute.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp made his second change two minutes later with Luka Modric making way for Aaron Lennon as Spurs went to a flat midfield four.

Wigan continued to make all the running and Valencia raced past Bale to cross to the near post but he could not pick out Heskey and Spurs cleared.

Valencia was shown Wigan's first yellow card when he was cautioned for catching Bale in the face with his arm and he was followed into the book by Palacios for bringing down Zokora 35 yards from goal.

Bale drilled the free-kick into the wall and Kirkland collected.

Zokora took his revenge on Palacios in the 72nd minute when he chopped him down in midfield and was also booked, while Woodgate was yellow-carded after catching Heskey's ankle.

Dawson was substituted in the 79th minute with a head injury sustained in a clash with Heskey, with Jermaine Jenas' arrival meaning King dropped back into defence.

Marriner was seeing more of the action than the players as he booked Paul Scharner for bringing down the sprinting Bent after Cattermole had given the ball away in midfield.

Taylor curled a 30-yard free-kick well over and Zaki headed wide from the midfielder's right-wing corner as Wigan pressed for a winner in the closing stages.

Then, in the first of four minutes of injury time, Wigan's goal came from the unlikeliest of sources.

Taylor swung over another corner and left-back Figueroa rose highest to head past Gomes.

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