Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Martinez delighted by Di Santo display

Wigan's Franco Di Santo, centre, has been praised by manager Roberto Martinez

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez lauded in-form forward Franco Di Santo for his all-round play after the Latics' 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw with Stoke at the DW Stadium.

Di Santo netted the hosts' second goal in the 49th minute in a counter-attack move, collecting the ball on the edge of his own box, feeding strike partner Arouna Kone up the right wing and then connecting first time with the return pass to beat goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Extending back to last season, it was a fifth goal in eight top-flight matches for the Argentinian, a run which has doubled his Wigan total since joining them from Chelsea in the summer of 2010, and Martinez said: "He is a striker with a tremendous touch, great finishing and energy and I think he can be outstanding in every aspect as a centre-forward."

He was also keen to emphasise the range of attributes he felt the 23-year-old had demonstrated with his goal. "You look at the second goal and it is as good as you are going to see in terms of centre-forward play.

"He is doing his duties defensively, in the counter-attack there is outstanding link-up play with his partner, and then he is as composed as you can be in the box.

"The play between Arouna and Franco was outstanding for that goal and that is why you get a little bit frustrated - because a goal like that deserves all three points."

Wigan had started the game well and were 1-0 up inside five minutes thanks to Shaun Maloney's penalty, only to concede a spot-kick themselves five minutes before the break which Jon Walters dispatched for the visitors.

Di Santo's strike restored the Latics' advantage, but Stoke secured their third draw from three Premier League games so far through Peter Crouch's header with 14 minutes to go.

Potters boss Tony Pulis' decision to take off winger Michael Kightly and replace him with Jerome just moments earlier had proved unpopular with some of the away fans. There were chants of "you don't know what you're doing" aimed at the manager, but what followed appeared to vindicate his judgment.

When it was suggested to him afterwards that he had, in fact, made quite a good substitution, Pulis said: "Yeah, not bad. Sometimes you do it and sometimes you don't. I just think we are in a society where we have to accept that there are a hell of a lot of people who have their opinions, and rightly so - they pay their money... But I'm big, ugly and strong enough to not take any notice."