West Ham United added to Wigan Athletic’s relegation fears with a clinical 2-0 win over the FA Cup Finalists at Upton Park.
The away side controlled possession during the game, but fell behind to Matt Jarvis’s 26th minute opener.
Kevin Nolan showed Wigan how to finish in the 80th minute with his 100th career goal to seal the win for West Ham.
Wigan started brightly and tested West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen inside four minutes. Antolin Alcaraz broke forward from defence and unleashed a powerful low dive that had to be well saved by the former Bolton Wanders number one.
The shot-stopper was called upon again six minutes later when Shaun Maloney was played in by James McCarthy, but the Iceland international smothered the shot from close range.
Up the other end, Joel was also in good form and made a super stop to deny Nolan the opening goal in the 14th minute. Gary O’Neil’s free-kick stood up for the West Ham skipper to volley on the turn, but the Spanish goalkeeper made a good diving save to palm the ball away.
Unfortunately for Roberto Martinez, his Wigan side fell behind after 21 minutes. Jarvis jinked by Emmerson Boyce on the left wing and swung in an in-swinging cross that caused huge problems for Joel. The goalkeeper had both Mohammed Diame and Nolan running across him and that distraction allowed Jarvis’ cross to spin past him into the bottom corner, and gifted the Hammers a lead.
Sam Allardyce’s home side could have doubled their lead before half-time and the chance fell to a goalscorer in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Wednesday. Ricardo Vaz Te got his second goal of the season against the league leaders, but was denied by Joel after a clever low shot from 18 yards out.
After half-time, West Ham lost a bit of momentum but still had the ability to test Joel in the 57th minute. Diame, the other scorer on Wednesday, cut inside onto his right foot but failed to connect properly with his curling shot and the Wigan goalkeeper had a comfortable save to make.
Up the other end, the Wigan full-backs linked up as Maynor Figueroa’s cross was met by Boyce’s diving header at the back post. Fortunately for the home side, Boyce’s header was weak and easily saved by Jaaskelainen after 62 minutes.
Just after in the 70th minute, Wigan’s first half substitute, Jean Beausejour, was played in by Arouna Kone, but his shot was straight at Jaaskelainen who made a strong save to push the ball away. An even better save came two minutes later when Maloney’s cutback was rocketed at goal by James McArthur but West Ham’s experienced goalkeeper dived across to his right and kept the ball from finding the bottom corner.
With ten minutes to go, West Ham got a second and killed off Wigan’s hopes in the game. Andy Carroll acrobatically flicked the ball towards Nolan, who met it with a scissor kick that smashed the ball past Joel into the bottom corner for a landmark goal.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)