A late goal from the Ivory Coast striker was enough to give the Latics a valuable three points over Norwich in their bid for survival, pushing them out of the relegation zoneWigan have moved out of the relegation zone after beating Norwich City 1-0 in an edgy Premier League encounter at the DW Stadium.
The relegation six-pointer looked set for a scoreless stalemate but a late strike from Arouna Kone gave the home side a priceless three points.
The victory gives Roberto Martinez’s side their first back-to-back home wins at the DW Stadium this season, whilst also providing their first clean sheet in a game where Chris Hughton was left ruing a lack of penetration in the final third.
Wigan named an unchanged team from their 2-0 win over Newcastle two weeks ago, with under-fire Callum McManaman starting despite being touted as a possible doubt with an ankle injury beforehand.
The home side started the game five points better off from the same stage last season in spite of their precarious position, yet the fixture with such huge importance on the relegation battle started off tentatively.
Roberto Martinez’s trademark possession football failed to break Norwich down in the early exchanges, allowing the Canaries the chance to start several counterattacking chances during the first-half. Yet the visitors lacked any real bite in the final third, a qualm emphasised further by their tally of just 28 goals all season.
But it was Wigan who produced the first real opportunity of the game on 26 minutes when a ball from Emmerson Boyce allowed Kone the chance to strike a low effort on goal from outside the box. His shot dragged wide of Lee Camp’s right-hand post.
Kone continued to offer glimpses of light going forward but his attempts on goal were often hit with little conviction. Jean Beausejouer’s left-hand side cross on 40 minutes brought half-hearted appeals for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike Russell Martin’s hand in an otherwise tepid first 45 minutes of football.
The sides entered the second period unchanged, and it took until the 58th minute for the next slice of excitement to arise when Bradley Johnson’s ambitious effort from long range whistled past the Wigan post.
Wigan picked up the pace and on the 70th minute came close. Antolin Alcaraz's towering header from an in-swinging corner was hacked off the line by Johnny Howson who held his position on the near post.
Jordi Gomez was then given a great opportunity to put the home side ahead as the game neared its conclusion, but snatched at his shot inside the penalty box as his drilled attempt failed to break through the resilient Norwich defence.
Yet Martinez’s faith in his Wigan side paid off when Kone hit a thunderous drive with 10 minutes remaining, beating Camp at his near post to give the home side a vital three points in their bid for yet another year of Premier League survival.