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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Wigan 3-0 Blackburn

By Julian Shea

Antonio Valencia
Valencia scores his third league goal of the season

Antonio Valencia inspired Wigan to victory over Blackburn to pile more pressure on Rovers boss Paul Ince.

Emile Heskey's backheel, followed two minutes later by Valencia's low drive, gave Wigan a perfect start as they dominated the first half.

Substitute David Dunn gave Rovers more attacking threat, but their best chance came from Ryan Taylor's near own-goal.

And the visitors were caught off guard when Valencia's cross fell to Lee Cattermole to wrap up a 3-0 win.

Rovers have now lost six successive league games and are without a win in 10, leaving them second from bottom.

Early goals were vital - Bruce

With his back to goal, Heskey opened the scoring when he cheekily poked in Valencia's cross off his in-step, and less than two minutes later non-existent marking allowed Valencia to make it 2-0.

Paul Robinson's poor clearance failed to reach the half-way line and was headed by Mario Melchiot straight into the path of Valencia.

He cut in from the wing and ran into the box, and with no-one making a serious attempt to dispossess him, lashed a shot into the bottom right-hand corner of Robinson's goal.

Blackburn slowly established a foothold in the game, with Matt Derbyshire trying his luck from range, but Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland got through the first half-hour without being seriously tested.

Valencia nearly scored his second and Wigan's third shortly before half-time when he flashed a half-volley just over from Maynor Figueroa's long throw.

Brett Emerton had a shot blocked and Christopher Samba headed over from the resulting corner as Rovers tried to stem the tide, but these were just temporary blips as Wigan continued pummelling the visitors' goal.

I'll keep fighting - Ince

Heskey and Amr Zaki could both have added to the lead but the best chance for a third fell to Cattermole, as he headed against the bar from a delightfully lofted Valencia cross.

Dunn, who has not played since picking up an Achilles injury in August gave Blackburn more purpose following his half-time introduction.

And they came close to pulling a goal back when Emerton's free-kick was deflected towards his own goal by Taylor, but Kirkland did superbly to turn it behind.

Emerton and Dunn did their best to drag their team back into the game, but Blackburn's chances were ended by a sucker punch with 14 minutes left.

Inevitably, Valencia was the creator as he fired in a cross from the right, which took a deflection off Andre Ooijer, and Taylor wisely stood back to let the ball go into the path of Cattermole, who buried it.

Wigan manager Steve Bruce:

"Antonio Valencia in the first half hour was on fire. We had to keep giving him the ball - he proved what a fantastic player he is.

"A good start was what we wanted against a team suffering on confidence but I thought they played decently.

"It's a small squad but with a bit of quality, I'd rather have that than one that's big but not good enough".

Blackburn manager Paul Ince on his future:

"It doesn't matter about Paul Ince, it matters about these players. What will be will be.

"I'm disappointed for my players and the fans who have come in abundance and we've let them down, we'll have to take stock and start again on Monday.

"I don't care who's in charge, me or Alex Ferguson, giving away a two goal start will always be trouble."

Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot (Kilbane 79), Bramble, Scharner, Figueroa, Valencia (De Ridder 87), Cattermole, Brown, Taylor, Zaki, Heskey (Camara 83). Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Kingson, Koumas, Cywka.

Booked: Brown.

Goals: Heskey 10, Valencia 12, Cattermole 77.

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton, Kerimoglu (Roberts 61), Andrews (Treacy 78), Pedersen (Dunn 46), Roque Santa Cruz, Derbyshire. Subs Not Used: Brown, McCarthy, Villanueva, Simpson.

Booked: Nelsen.

Att: 18,003

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Wigan's Antonio Valencia 8.83 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
13 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
13 Dec 08 |  Football

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