Everton's first home win of the season came in dramatic fashion as David Moyes' late substitutions proved decisive. In the absence of a natural goalscorer, Everton were drifting towards stalemate until 19-year-old Apostolos Vellios, signed from Iraklis Salonika in January, came off the bench to win it with his first goal in English football, a header that many a more heralded Everton centre-forward would have been proud of.
It was the Greece Under-21 forward's fifth appearance for Everton, all as a substitute, and his first goal for the club. Another Everton sub, Royston Drenthe, scored his first to settle it in injury time, from a flick by a third, Denis Stracqualursi.
"We ran out of ideas halfway through the second half and we were looking to cause Wigan more problems," Moyes said, giving credit to Mick Docherty, the club's former scout – who left for Chelsea last month – for finding Vellios and Seamus Coleman. "[Vellios] has a lot to to do and a lot to learn but he's certainly got something."
Vellios proved Moyes right in omitting Louis Saha from his squad, which caused the France forward to tweet his displeasure. Moyes, though, sounded unconcerned. "I want them upset when they're not involved."
Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, felt that his team had performed well in the absence of key defenders, and his problems grew when Hugo Rodallega was taken off on a stretcher with suspected medial ligament damage to his right knee late in the game.
"It's a blow," Martinez said. "Ninety per cent of the performance was what we wanted, we just got heavily punished for not cutting out crosses. If we had played that game 10 times we would have got something out of it nine times. But in football you get what the scoreline tells you."
Until Moyes introduced Vellios, Tim Cahill had toiled alone up front. He has failed to score for Everton in 2011, and playing as a lone forward was unlikely to improve that record, his goalscoring strength lying in arriving late and unmarked.
It meant that Everton were unable to profit from a steady stream of crosses provided by Leighton Baines, and Wigan's only early chance was handed to them when Marouane Fellaini's slip gifted the ball to Franco di Santo. The Argentinian set off for goal but shot wide from 25 yards with Rodallega screaming for the ball. Otherwise it was all Everton.
So Wigan must have surprised even themselves by taking the lead just past the half-hour, Di Santo's angled shot taking a nick off Tony Hibbert and rising past Tim Howard.
Everton equalised two minutes later as Leon Osman floated a corner from the left invitingly towards Cahill. He leapt high to meet it and although his header smacked back off the crossbar, Jagielka was on hand to nod home the rebound.
Wigan were marginally more adventurous in the second half, and Baines was lucky that Victor Moses stayed on his feet after an ill-timed challenge in the penalty area, but Everton dictated the pace again without being able to find a cutting edge.
Enter Vellios. He made an inauspicious start, shooting limply at Ali Al Habsi with Osman far better placed. But if he lacked the predator's instinct, a Goodison tradition of great headed goals was upheld as he rose above the defenders to glance Tony Hibbert's cross past Al Habsi.
Wigan mounted a spirited response. Their substitute David Jones's lob came back off the bar with Howard beaten, and Hibbert somehow got in a block when Moses looked certain to put the loose ball in. But in injury time Drenthe ran on to Stracqualursi's touch before slipping the ball past Al Habsi.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Coleman (Vellios, 67), Rodwell, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov (Drenthe, 59); Osman; Cahill (Stracqualursi 83)
Wigan Athletic (4-2-3-1): Al Habsi; Lopez, Caldwell, Figueroa, Van Aanholt; McCarthy, Watson; Moses, Rodallega (Maloney, 90) Gomez (Jones, 71); Di Santo.
Referee: Peter Walton
Man of the match: Baines (Everton).Reuse content