Gabriel Agbonlahor's goal was his first in the league since last April
By Les Roopanarine
Aston Villa made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time this season to move six points clear of Wigan and the relegation zone.
Villa went ahead four minutes after the break when Gabriel Agbonlahor nodded home at close range following an Ashley Young corner.
Young then doubled the visitors' advantage from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Hendry Thomas.
James McCarthy drove home a deflected late effort, but Villa held firm.
Nonetheless, it was a nervous finale for the visitors, who looked increasingly ill at ease as Franco di Santo, Hugo Rodallega and substitute Ben Watson went close for the hosts.
Buoyed by Saturday's 1-0 victory over Manchester City, in which new signing Darren Bent's winning goal hinted that the £24m it took to prise him from Sunderland may prove money well spent, Villa again showed clear signs of improvement.
Yet their inability to keep a clean sheet, combined with a failure to translate a dominant first-half phase into tangible reward, suggests the claret-and-blue revival retains a certain fragility.
Villa manager Gerard Houllier will not, in all probability, be losing much sleep over that. The Frenchman needs only consider Wigan's plight to realise life could be worse.
The Latics remain entrenched in the bottom three - in 18th place - and the home fans were quick to vent their anger at manager Roberto Martinez come the final whistle.
That was perhaps harsh on the Spaniard, whose players rallied strongly in the closing stages and might even have gone ahead as early as the opening minute, when Di Santo directed a header on to the roof of the net from an Emerson Boyce centre.
Yet if that moment augured well for Wigan, their hopes of forcing a breakthrough were repeatedly thwarted by a lack of composure in front of goal.
Chiefly culpable was Rodallega, who drew a decent save from visiting goalkeeper Brad Friedel with a deflected first-half effort but ought to have done better than fire over from six yards out under pressure from Carlos Cuellar.
Not for the first time this season, that lack of killer instinct - combined with an approach more responsive than probing - proved costly for Martinez's men.
The danger posed by the visitors was clear. The addition of fresh faces in the shape of new signing Jean Makoun and home-grown teenager Nathan Baker, combined with the introduction of a 4-2-3-1 system, seemed to infuse Villa with an exuberance and fluidity rarely seen since Houllier's arrival last autumn.
Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi was forced to deny Stewart Downing and Bent in quick succession, and again got down well to keep Bent at bay after a Young free-kick had caught Steven Caldwell napping.
Gradually, however - and despite some impressive moments from both Makoun and Baker - the first-half momentum began to change hands.
But, with the home side likewise unable to make the most of a period of first-half ascendancy, Villa were swift to make amends on the restart.
With four minutes of the second half gone, Young delivered a corner to the far post, from which Carlos Cuellar headed goalwards.
Al Habsi, outstanding at Arsenal on Saturday, somehow scrambled the ball off the line, but only as far as Agbonlahor, who gleefully nodded home his first Premier League goal since April 2010.
It proved the cue for a period of implosion from Wigan, who fell two behind shortly after the hour courtesy of Boyce's costly error, with Young firing in unerringly from the spot.
The full significance of that mistake only emerged 10 minutes from time when McCarthy, who turned in an impressive performance on his return from a three-month injury lay-off, found the net with a driven effort that took a horrible deflection off James Collins.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez: "Obviously it is a feeling of disappointment because we didn't get the result we wanted.
"We had a lot of hope and expectations for this game but if you lose, it is about the manner you do that, and I was extremely proud of the players.
"I thought in the first half we coped with Villa well and had the best chances.
"Sometimes you need that bit of luck with the positioning of the keeper or other times we lacked that composure in the final third.
"The first goal in games like this is always important and we had a soft period when we conceded two goals from two set-pieces.
"It would have been easy to throw the towel in but the reaction was fantastic. We made the effort and showed the character and with the crowd behind us we got one goal back.
"The game probably went away from us too quickly because we looked like a team that with more time we could have got something."
Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier: "I was slightly questioning the fact that, on the back of the Manchester City performance, we would be flat physically.
"In fairness to the boys, though, I think they responded extremely well. They kept focused and determined. It was not an easy game, they were just three points behind us.
"Wigan started well, they started with the foot flat on the pedal. [But] we managed to stay composed and had a couple of chances. And in the second half I thought we dominated most of the game, controlled it and passed the ball around.
"We probably deserved the lead and at 2-1, that is where I think the team has mentally progressed and improved.
"There was no sign of panic. They threw everything to get an equaliser but we stayed in place."
90:00+3:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Darren Bent on Ronnie Stam. Direct free kick taken by Ronnie Stam.
90:00+0:58 A cross is delivered by Ronnie Stam, clearance made by James Collins.
89:40 Booking Caution for Brad Friedel.
88:46 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Hugo Rodallega by Carlos Cuellar. Ben Watson delivers the ball from the free
kick right-footed from left channel.
88:46 Booking The referee books Carlos Cuellar for unsporting behaviour.
87:16 Substitution Chris Herd joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ashley Young.
86:54 Shot from just outside the box by Ben Watson goes over the bar.
84:25 Substitution James McCarthy leaves the field to be replaced by Callum McManaman.
84:11 Shot from just outside the area by Charles N'Zogbia misses to the left of the target.
83:42 Inswinging corner taken by Charles N'Zogbia, clearance made by Richard Dunne.
82:23 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Charles N'Zogbia from the right by-line to the near post, Franco Di Santo takes a shot.
Save made by Brad Friedel.
80:47 Hugo Rodallega produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
79:08 The assist for the goal came from Charles N'Zogbia.
79:08 GOAL - James McCarthy:Wigan 1 - 2 Aston Villa James McCarthy grabs a goal from just outside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Wigan 1-2 Aston Villa.
76:29 Unfair challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor by James McArthur results in a free kick. Nathan Baker takes the direct free kick.
76:29 Substitution Marc Albrighton on for Gabriel Agbonlahor.
76:16 Maynor Figueroa crosses the ball, clearance made by Richard Dunne.
75:00 Ben Watson produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.
74:01 Charles N'Zogbia takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
70:31 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Charles N'Zogbia by Ashley Young. Charles N'Zogbia crosses the ball from the
free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance made by Richard Dunne. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ben Watson.
69:23 Maynor Figueroa takes a shot. Blocked by James Collins. Corner taken by Ben Watson from the left by-line, Brad Friedel makes
68:23 Foul by Franco Di Santo on James Collins, free kick awarded. Brad Friedel restarts play with the free kick.
67:53 Ashley Young takes a shot. Ali Al Habsi makes a save.
65:51 Substitution Ben Watson on for Hendry Thomas.
65:51 Substitution Emmerson Boyce leaves the field to be replaced by Ronnie Stam.
65:43 Centre by Ashley Young, clearance made by Steve Gohouri.
62:52 Steve Gohouri challenges Gabriel Agbonlahor unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ashley Young. Shot by
62:52 Booking Steve Gohouri is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
61:57 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ashley Young by James McArthur. Stewart Downing takes the direct free kick.
61:16 GOAL - Ashley Young:Wigan 0 - 2 Aston Villa Penalty taken right-footed by Ashley Young and scored. Wigan 0-2 Aston Villa.
59:47 Unfair challenge on Ashley Young by Hendry Thomas results in a Penalty.
58:46 Stewart Downing delivers the ball, Ali Al Habsi makes a save.
56:20 James McCarthy delivers the ball, James Collins makes a clearance. Corner from the right by-line taken by Charles N'Zogbia,
clearance made by Nathan Baker. Short corner worked by Hugo Rodallega. Hugo Rodallega delivers the ball, clearance by James
Collins. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Charles N'Zogbia, clearance by Richard Dunne.
56:20 Substitution Stiliyan Petrov joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jean Makoun.
52:44 Ashley Young is caught offside. Ali Al Habsi takes the indirect free kick.
52:30 Hugo Rodallega takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
Correction - 49:00 Ashley Young takes the outswinging corner, Steven Caldwell makes a clearance. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line
by Ashley Young, Carlos Cuellar takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi. Carlos Cuellar provided the assist for the goal.
Correction - 49:00 GOAL - Gabriel Agbonlahor:Wigan 0 - 1 Aston Villa Gabriel Agbonlahor scores a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Wigan 0-1 Aston Villa.
49:00 Corner taken by Ashley Young from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Steven Caldwell. Outswinging corner
taken by Ashley Young from the right by-line, Carlos Cuellar takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi. Assist by Carlos Cuellar.
49:00 GOAL - Gabriel Agbonlahor:Wigan 0 - 1 Aston Villa Gabriel Agbonlahor grabs a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Wigan 0-1 Aston Villa.
47:58 Ashley Young takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi.
45:47 Ashley Young gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hendry Thomas. Steve Gohouri takes the free kick.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+1:03 The match has reached half-time.
44:45 James McArthur takes a shot. Blocked by Carlos Cuellar.
42:13 Free kick awarded for a foul by Darren Bent on Steve Gohouri. Ali Al Habsi takes the free kick.
41:39 Franco Di Santo takes a shot. Save made by Brad Friedel.
39:39 Ashley Young sends in a cross, clearance by Steve Gohouri.
38:28 James McCarthy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nigel Reo-Coker. Free kick taken by Stewart Downing.
37:34 Nigel Reo-Coker challenges Hendry Thomas unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ali Al Habsi.
35:05 Gabriel Agbonlahor fouled by Emmerson Boyce, the ref awards a free kick. Ashley Young crosses the ball from the free kick
right-footed from left channel, James McCarthy makes a clearance.
33:01 Unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Ashley Young results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Maynor Figueroa.
30:54 Ashley Young produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.
30:45 A cross is delivered by Stewart Downing, Steven Caldwell manages to make a clearance.
29:02 Corner taken by Stewart Downing from the right by-line, save made by Ali Al Habsi.
26:03 Ashley Young gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hendry Thomas. Maynor Figueroa takes the free kick.
24:20 Effort on goal by Hugo Rodallega from just inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
21:12 Jean Makoun concedes a free kick for a foul on Hugo Rodallega. Hendry Thomas produces a shot on goal direct from the free
21:12 Booking Jean Makoun booked.
19:25 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stewart Downing by Maynor Figueroa. Free kick taken by James Collins.
19:25 Booking Maynor Figueroa goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
16:22 Unfair challenge on Charles N'Zogbia by Nigel Reo-Coker results in a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Hugo Rodallega
from the free kick.
15:08 Charles N'Zogbia fouled by Jean Makoun, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Charles N'Zogbia,
Richard Dunne makes a clearance.
13:32 Effort on goal by Charles N'Zogbia from just inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
12:55 Hugo Rodallega takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
12:11 Carlos Cuellar crosses the ball.
Correction - 10:48 Stewart Downing takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi. Darren Bent takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi. Corner taken
left-footed by Ashley Young, Stewart Downing takes a shot. Steven Caldwell gets a block in.
10:48 Stewart Downing takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi. Darren Bent takes a shot. Save by Ali Al Habsi. Corner from the left
by-line taken by Ashley Young, Stewart Downing takes a shot. Blocked by Steven Caldwell.
7:55 Darren Bent is caught offside. Ali Al Habsi takes the free kick.
6:23 Foul by James Collins on Hugo Rodallega, free kick awarded. Hugo Rodallega produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick,
save by Brad Friedel.
5:37 Darren Bent takes a shot. Save by Ali Al Habsi.
5:26 Unfair challenge on Ashley Young by Steve Gohouri results in a free kick. Ashley Young restarts play with the free kick.
4:46 Foul by Charles N'Zogbia on Jean Makoun, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Richard Dunne.
4:11 The ball is delivered by Emmerson Boyce, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Franco Di Santo goes harmlessly over
0:41 Hugo Rodallega has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
0:13 Foul by Carlos Cuellar on Charles N'Zogbia, free kick awarded. Hugo Rodallega restarts play with the free kick.
0:00 The match gets underway.
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