Aston Villa fell 3-0 at home to Wigan with a performance that is sure to pile the pressure on Paul Lambert’s inexperienced side as they reel from a third consecutive heavy defeat, while the Latics end their winless run.
The Villains endured a horrendous opening when Ivan Ramis headed in unmarked from a corner, and almost gave away a penalty moments later, but looked to be recovering their confidence shortly before half time.
Wigan however took advantage of Villa’s swashbuckling opening to the second half, and Emmerson Boyce finished a quick move that caught Villa off-guard with a sweeping finish, and minutes later Arouna Kone added a third after lax defending.
Lambert changed formation and attempted to restore some morale for the rest of the match, but many supporters had left the ground before the final whistle concluded a worrying performance.
Aston Villa’s young side had gone into the game following two heavy defeats and Paul Lambert responded with an attack-minded 3-5-2 naming Stephen Ireland, Barry Bannan and Brett Holman in midfield. Wigan however looked boosted by the return of Ivan Ramis at centre-back and forced the home side to endure a harrowing opening at Villa Park.
After just two minutes right-back Matt Lowton was lucky not to give away a penalty after putting his hand to a long ball towards Franco Di Santo. Justice was served from the resulting corner as Jean Beausejour’s floated delivery found the unmarked Ivan Ramis on the edge of the six yard box for the Spaniard to head the ball past Brad Guzan and take advantage of poor marking from Christian Benteke.
Villa looked shaken by the concession and the Latics looked as though they might overwhelm their inexperienced opponents for much of the opening half hour, in which the home side struggled to keep the ball and were restricted to a speculative shot from Andreas Weimann and hopeful long balls towards Christian Benteke.
Shaun Maloney could have won a penalty inside the opening ten minutes when Stephen Ireland failed to track the Scotland international’s run onto Beausejour’s through ball down the left edge of the box, then committed what looked a foul on the edge of the box in attempting to win the ball back. Beausejour found a lot of space on the left flank through the half and teed up Maloney who shot over the bar, while strikers Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo failed to make the most of good work from their midfield.
Aston Villa grew in confidence however towards the end of the second half, with Lowton and Bennett each contributing from the wings as their midfield began to maintain possession. Benteke had the ball in the back of the net after good work from Brett Holman but the Australia international had earlier found Weimann offside. Maloney was booked for a foul in frustration just before the break, and from the free kick Benteke headed back across goal for Holman to strike the bar from a tight angle.
Aston Villa continued the second half as they left off, with their midfield impressing and getting well forward together with right-back Lowton to maintain possession in the Wigan half. Wigan however took the exposed Villains by surprise and extended their lead with a quickly taken throw-in reaching Maloney in the centre of the pitch.
The playmaker found right-back Emmerson Boyce who drove towards the box and found Kone before receiving the ball back again on the edge of the box and sweeping the ball into the bottom-left corner in an excellent finish.
Minutes later Arouna Kone netted a third as Franco Di Santo threaded a through-ball from outside the edge of the box to the Ivorian, who withstood a weak challenge from Lowton before rounding Brad Guzan before rolling the ball into the net. The home fans were visibly angry at the scoreline and could be seen leaving the match.
With his team visibly demoralized and Wigan calmly stroking the ball across the middle of the park, Lambert brought on the more defensively-minded midfielder Karim El-Ahmadi, striker Jordan Bowery winger Marc Albrighton as he moved to a back four. The move brought a surprising lift from the crowd, with Albrighton providing good width and a supply of crosses into a newly crowded box.
Villa remained exposed at the back however and Kone was put through on goal with a long ball from keeper Ali Al-Habsi before losing control of the ball having looked to round Guzan once more. The Ivorian was later ruled offside after taking advantage of Villa’s high line once more. Weimann shot at goal from an angle in the box, while Al-Habsi watched some hopeful long shots fly past his goal, but the home side never looked like netting a consolation goal as Wigan ended their winless run.