Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Kone fires Latics to victory

Arouna Kone scored the only goal as Wigan beat Norwich

Wigan's survival bid gathered pace as Arouna Kone's goal nine minutes from time secured a 1-0 win over Norwich and made it three wins in a row for Roberto Martinez's side.

Last season a point at Carrow Road in March provided the impetus for the Latics to win seven of their last 10 games and engineer another great escape - and Saturday's three points lifted them out of the Barclays Premier League's bottom three.

Wigan were lacklustre for an hour but the threat on the Norwich goal grew and grew and, after Antolin Alcaraz had seen a header cleared off the line, it was Kone who fired home from the edge of the box.

The visitors are not quite clear of the relegation scrap and they began well, with striker Kei Kamara looking a threat, but they did not trouble Joel Robles in the home goal.

The hosts were struggling to make an impact but they did put together a fine move in the 27th minute as Shaun Maloney turned and found Emmerson Boyce who set up Kone for a shot just wide.

Alcaraz had been a doubt for the match, with Martinez keen not to overplay him after he missed six months of the season with a groin tear. The Paraguayan's calmness in defence has been much missed and he saved his team after a misunderstanding allowed Kamara to run free only for Alcaraz to nick the ball quite brilliantly.

Wigan came extremely close to taking the lead after 70 minutes. Alcaraz rose highest to meet Jean Beausejour's corner but his header was cleared off the line by Jonny Howson.

The home side were certainly in the ascendancy and they went close again in the 77th minute as James McCarthy drilled a shot just wide.

The goal was coming and it arrived in the 81st minute. Wes Hoolahan lost the ball in midfield and it proved costly as Jordi Gomez picked out Kone, who smashed home from the edge of the box. It was a fine strike by the Ivorian but goalkeeper Lee Camp will feel he should have done better at his near post.

Norwich could not exert any real late pressure on Robles' goal and Chris Hughton's side are now only four points ahead of their opponents.

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