Newcastle paid for their moments of indiscipline as a free-kick and a penalty cost them their chance of a first-ever victory at the JJB yesterday.
Joe Kinnear's 10 remaining men had a penalty of their own near the end of an often fractious game and Damien Duff missed a golden chance to salvage a draw in injury time, but by then the damage had been done.
The first telling lapse came in the 28th minute, when Jonas Gutierrez brought down the lively and dangerous Amr Zaki 25 metres out. Ryan Taylor, preferred to Michael Brown in Wigan's starting line-up, no doubt with his dead-ball expertise in mind, struck it perfectly and Shay Given was comprehensively beaten to his right.
"His delivery of a dead ball is as good as anyone I've ever worked with," said his admiring manager, Steve Bruce.
Latics had been the better side before that strike, with Zaki a particular problem for a United side reshuffled after Sanchez Jose Enrique's late pull-out. They also looked the sharper at the start of the second half, although Newcastle could have been level if Danny Guthrie's deflected shot after a penetrative run had dropped below Chris Kirkland's crossbar. Instead, Wigan effectively made sure of a win that puts three points' worth of daylight between them and Newcastle, thanks to a pivotal moment after 71 minutes.
Emile Heskey and Sébastien Bassong were chasing a through ball, with the defender pulling back his man for what seemed like half the length of the pitch. With his assistant flagging furiously, the referee, Mike Dean, played advantage until Heskey wrestled his way into the penalty area only to be floored by a particularly emphatic tug.
"He threw himself down and referees keep falling for it," said a disgruntled Kinnear. Bassong went off and Zaki made it two from the spot. It was the Egyptian's 10th goal of the season and a reward for a performance that recalled his immediate impact in the Premiership. That should have been that, but Wigan were determined that their manager should not have an entirely relaxing afternoon.
"Apart from three minutes at the end, it was so one-sided it was scary," said Bruce. "We made it difficult for ourselves at the end, but we gave them problems all afternoon."
Wigan's own late problems began when Andrew Carroll pursued Nicky Butt's lofted pass, collided with Kirkland and got the verdict, for Guthrie to convert the spot-kick.
A disgruntled Kinnear believed his side should have had another penalty, when Carroll was booked instead for diving, but he could not blame Mr Dean for Duff's miss in added time.
By then, Mark Viduka was off the field with a torn groin muscle, following the loss of Habib Beye to Lee Cattermole's tackle in the first half.
"If you wanted to be very kind, you would call it a reckless challenge," said Kinnear, who claimed to lack the vocabulary to do justice to his opinion of Mr Dean's performance. He expects to be without eight first-choice players against Liverpool tomorrow.
"But whatever team we field, we'll pick ourselves up, because we've a lot of committed players here," he said.
Goals: Taylor (29) 1-0; Zaki pen (73) 2-0; Guthrie pen (88) 2-1.
Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa; Valencia, Cattermole, Palacios (Kilbane, 90), R Taylor (Brown, 70); Heskey (Camara, 85), Zaki. Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Boyce, Koumas, De Ridder.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Beye (S Taylor, 37), Coloccini, Bassong, N'Zogbia; Gutierrez, Butt, Guthrie, Duff; Owen (Edgar, 77), Viduka (Carroll, 67). Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Geremi, Xisco, Lualua.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Booked: Wigan Cattermole, Palacios, Kirkland; Newcastle Butt, Duff, Carroll. Sent off: Bassong.
Man of the match: Zaki.
Attendance: 20,266.Reuse content