Wigan boost Euro challenge

2009-03-22 18:02

Wigan - Wigan boosted their bid for European football as Ben Watson's late goal sealed a 1-0 win against Hull on Sunday.

Steve Bruce's side moved into seventh place in the Premier League thanks to Watson's fine strike at the JJB Stadium and their dreams of continental action in the Europa League - next season's revamped UEFA Cup - are looking more realistic by the week.

While Wigan look up, Hull's players are nervously glancing over their shoulders towards the relegation zone after a defeat which kept them just four points from safety,

Hull boss Phil Brown made five changes to the team beaten at Arsenal in the FA Cup in midweek as Matt Duke, Michael Turner, Kevin Kilbane, Bernard Mendy and Dean Marney returned.

South Korea midfielder Cho Won-hee was given his first taste of English football with a place on the bench for Wigan, although in the end he didn't get to come on for his debut.

The Latics started well and Duke had to tip Charles N'Zogbia's long-range cross-shot over via the crossbar.

Watson forced Duke into a low save with a 25-yard shot before Mido was guilty of wasting the best opportunity after Hugo Rodallega and Paul Scharner exchanged quick passes to bypass the Hull midfield.

Rodallega pulled the ball back to Egypt forward Mido on the right angle of the penalty area but he blazed over.

Mido squandered another chance in the 28th minute after Scharner had outjumped the defence to head Maynor Figueroa's long ball down to Rodallega in the six-yard area.

Rodallega had a chance of his own to give Wigan the lead when he raced on to Scharner's through-ball, but with only the keeper to beat his shot was too close to Duke.

Having spent long periods with little to do Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland had to be alert to tip over Manucho's flashed header from Marney's 50th-minute corner.

Wigan forward Amr Zaki, on as a replacement for Mido, rose highest in a crowd to head Daniel De Ridder's cross against the foot of a post with Duke beaten.

The hosts were finally rewarded for their pressure in the 84th minute.

Duke's weak punch didn't clear the penalty area and Watson looped a perfect lobbed volley over the goalkeeper and in at the far post despite Kilbane's best efforts to keep it out.