x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Wigan out of drop zone after beating Everton

The relegation zone merry-go-round continues as Wigan Athletic beat Everton 1-0 to climb out of the bottom three.

Henri Camara, right, celebrates his winner for Wigan with Wilson Palcios.
Henri Camara, right, celebrates his winner for Wigan with Wilson Palcios.

LONDON // Henri Camara finally gave the JJB Stadium reason to cheer as his first Premier League goal in almost two years catapulted Wigan out of the relegation zone and put in-form Everton to the sword. The Senegal international striker replaced the ineffectual Olivier Kapo at half-time and needed just six minutes to rifle home a clinical low shot after a delightful piece of skill from Antonio Valencia. It proved enough to give Steve Bruce's men only their second home league win of the season and their first since beating Manchester City 2-1 almost two months ago. Moreover, it was the perfect fillip for Bruce after recent results raised fears of his side being dragged into a relegation dogfight. The Latics are not out of trouble yet but this thoroughly deserved victory, in which the midfielder Lee Cattermole was outstanding, was heartening for Bruce and no-one was happier than the goal-hero Camara at the final whistle. The nomadic forward, 31, spent last season on loan at West Ham but failed to score a single goal in a nightmare campaign. Camara returned to the JJB Stadium in the summer and, having scored three times in the Carling Cup earlier this season, he finally found the net in the top flight for the first time since scoring against Middlesbrough for Wigan in December 2006. Everton had made the short trip to Wigan unbeaten in five games but, after a bright start, they faded badly. The defeat means none of the league's top 10 were able to produce a win over this latest round of fixtures. Yet during the early exchanges, David Moyes' men looked full of confidence and Yakubu and Louis Saha again dovetailed to good effect. Indeed the Toffees looked like they were the team playing at home in the opening quarter. Tim Cahill spurned an opportunity in the fifth minute when he headed Mikel Arteta's corner wastefully over the crossbar from eight yards out. Yakubu then showed some delightful footwork and a neat turn of pace to engineer the space to drive a low shot into the heart of the Wigan defence, but Paul Scharner was alert to the danger and cleared for a corner. In the 14th minute, Everton crafted possibly the best move of the first half when the lively Yakubu broke clear down the left flank and delivered an inch-perfect cross into Saha's feet. The France striker strode forward and rifled a low, first-time shot goalwards from around 16 yards ? but his effort drew a fine one-handed save from Chris Kirkland. In the 34th minute Emile Heskey used his aerial strength to flick a high ball into Valencia's path on the right side of Everton's six-yard box. The Ecuadorean clipped a teasing cross across the face of goal and Wilson Palacios stopped to head goalwards but contrived only to send the ball over the bar from little more than four yards out. Wigan went close twice within the space of a minute on the stroke of half-time whistle when Howard palmed away Cattermole's curling shot from 14 yards, then produced an even better save to repel Scharner's close-range header. Bruce's decision to replace the ineffectual Kapo with Camara proved inspired. The Senegal forward was clearly up for it and was the quickest to react when Valencia's individual skill handed him a goal on a plate six minutes after the restart. Valencia showed a neat touch to control a long punt upfield on the right-hand side of Everton's 18-yard box. He then drove at Joleon Lescott, slipping the ball between the England defender's legs with a cheeky nutmeg before spotting Camara lurking at the far post. Valencia slid a vicious low cross across the face of goal and there was Camara to rifle the ball home in predatory fashion. Bruce celebrated with a punch of the air pitch side and Camara blew kisses to the jubilant Latics supporters. Wigan could have made the game safe in the 71st minute when Valencia broke clear and hit a powerful shot from 14 yards which Howard could only parry. Three minutes later, Cahill attempted to tuck away a loose ball from 14 yards but Scharner blocked his effort. Cahill had a golden chance to earn a point in injury-time but he shot over the bar and victory was Wigan's. *PA Sport