Wigan end on a high as coveted Valencia opens box of tricks

Wigan Athletic 1 Portsmouth 0
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The Independent Online

Hugo Rodallega scored his third goal in four matches as Wigan ended a run of three successive defeats by beating Portsmouth at the JJB Stadium. The Colombia striker had the simplest of tap-ins from three yards after Sol Campbell missed Charles N'Zogbia's 27th-minute cross. Rodallega stole the limelight from winger Antonio Valencia, who put in a fine performance on what is expected to be his final appearance before a big-money move.

Victory ended a dismal spell that had seen the Latics take only one point from the previous seven matches. It was that form that put paid to their hopes of European football next season as they dropped out of contention for seventh place. However, they finished 11th in the table, their best since the all-time high of 10th under Paul Jewell in 2005/06.

For Portsmouth, who seemed to be resigned to their fate about 15 minutes into the second half, this was a 13th match on the road without victory.

Valencia soon displayed the kind of trickery that has seen him linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United. He cut inside left-back Hermann Hreidarsson and weaved into the penalty area but, when he pulled his cross back, Rodallega blazed over. He was enjoying his finale, looking more threatening than he had since the turn of the year, and he gave Hreidarsson a torrid time.

The hosts' persistence was rewarded when N'Zogbia's cross was missed by Campbell and Rodallega tapped in at the far post.

Early in the second half, Titus Bramble, Wigan's player of the year, and Mario Melchiot both produced timely tackles to deny John Utaka and Peter Crouch as Portsmouth began to assert themselves. But the result was never really in doubt as Portsmouth's players appeared to be on the coach home well before the final whistle.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kingson; Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa; Valencia, Cattermole, Brown, N'Zogbia (McManaman, 78); De Ridder (Routledge, 90), Rodallega. Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Edman, Cho, Watson, Kupisz.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Begovic; Kaboul (Kanu, 72), Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Pennant (Thomas, 72), Hughes, Mullins, Traoré; Utaka, Crouch. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Primus, Pamarot, Cranie, Basinas.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Portsmouth Hreidarsson, Thomas, Hughes, Crouch.

Man of the match: Valencia.

Attendance: 17,696.

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