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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Wigan 3-2 Aston Villa
Jimmy Bullard (right) and Henri Camara scored Wigan's goals
Bullard (right) and Camara scored Wigan's goals
Wigan kept up their hopes of a place in Europe with a hard-fought victory at home to Aston Villa.

Jimmy Bullard opened the scoring with the pick of the game's goals, volleying home from the edge of the area.

Villa equalised through a Juan Pablo Angel tap-in before two goals in four minutes from Henri Camara put Wigan back in charge.

Liam Ridgewell beat the offside trap to score from close range to give Villa hope but Wigan held on for the win.

It was a predictably scrappy opening between a Wigan side struggling for form at home and a Villa outfit who have had all kinds of troubles on their travels.

Bullard's moment of class lit up a dreary opening 45 minutes at the JJB Stadium.

Stand-in skipper Jason Roberts got behind the Villa defence and when his centre was half cleared by Gary Cahill it fell to Bullard, who connected beautifully with a flying volley that found the top corner.

The Latics could have doubled their lead when Reto Ziegler was released by Roberts but he drilled his shot narrowly over.

Villa's only real effort of the opening period came when James Milner crossed for Gareth Barry, who turned inside Pascal Chimbonda before unleashing a shot that John Filan did well to keep out.

But it took them only seven minutes of the second half to get back on level terms, Angel scoring from substitute Gabriel Agbonlahor's cross after a positive run from Milan Baros.

However, Wigan were quick to re-establish the initiative and Roberts and Camara looked by far the hungrier of the two strike partnerships on show.

It was Camara who put Wigan back in the ascendancy with two quick goals as the game burst into life.

The first was a fine individual effort as he teased his way into the box and showed quick feet to fire in a shot that beat Sorensen at his near post.

The striker then finished off from inside the area after exchanging passes with Chimbonda and Wigan's late push for a European place was back on track.

They were given a nervous 25 minutes when Ridgewell beat Wigan's offside trap to flick a deflected cross from Barry past Filan.

And Wigan boss Paul Jewell's heart will have been in his mouth as Angel's shot bounced just in front of Filan and the keeper was fortunate to see it hit his hands and loop just over the bar.

Bullard could have sealed it when he found himself with just the keeper to beat only to thrash his shot over the bar.

It did not matter as Wigan got their first home win of 2006 to move up to eighth in the Premiership table.

  • Wigan boss Paul Jewell said:
    "It was far too open for my liking. We never really looked like keeping them out but we we looked like scoring goals.

    "I was delighted. We changed it around and freshened it up but to score three goals, do the double over Aston Villa and get 51 points is a major coup.

    "Now we try and win as many games as possible."

  • Aston Villa assistant Roy Aitken:
    "When we got back to 1-1 we lost two quick goals that should have been prevented, but our effort and commitment was not in doubt.

    "It sums up our season. With the chances we created we should be scoring more than two goals.

    "We needed more quality this season. The quality has been short in vital areas - at both ends of the pitch."

    Wigan: Filan, Chimbonda, Henchoz, Scharner, Baines, Teale, Francis (Kavanagh 79), Bullard, Ziegler (McCulloch 81), Camara, Roberts.
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Johansson, Taylor.

    Booked: Henchoz, Chimbonda.

    Goals: Bullard 25, Camara 56, 60.

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, Hughes (De la Cruz 66), Cahill, Ridgewell, Samuel, Milner, McCann, Gardner (Agbonlahor 45), Barry, Angel, Baros.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Bouma, Phillips.

    Booked: Barry, Milner.

    Goals: Angel 53, Ridgewell 67.

    Att: 17,330.

    Ref: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

    Interview: Wigan boss Paul Jewell

    Interview: Aston Villa assistant manager Roy Aitken


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