Newcastle Utd 3 Wigan 1
Saturday April 15th 2006
NEWCASTLE UNITED 3 WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Carr, Bramble, Moore, Elliott, Solano, Dyer (Clark 75), Bowyer (Faye 8), N'Zogbia, Shearer, Ameobi (Chopra 18).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ramage.
WIGAN ATH: Filan, Chimbonda, Jackson (Baines 20), De Zeeuw (Scharner 17), Ziegler, Thompson, Kavanagh, Bullard, McCulloch (Camara 44), Johansson, Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Teale.
United's unlikely late charge for Europe gathered pace as skipper Alan Shearer added two more to the Newcastle goalscoring record. Some saw this as view of what United could become if Paul Jewell was given the job vacated by the sacking of Graeme Souness, but let's hope it doesn't happen. His Wigan side have been the surprise package of the Premiership this season, but Newcastle ran them ragged.
A 27th-minute penalty and a second goal on 67 minutes took the 35-year-old's tally for the season to 13 and secured a third successive Premiership victory, setting up a massive showdown with the Mackems on Easter Monday.
Wigan had gone in front courtesy of Jimmy Bullard's fifth-minute free-kick, but they lost captain Arjan De Zeeuw, central defensive partner Matt Jackson and Lee McCulloch to injury before the break, and by that time the Mags had them under the cosh.
Shearer's spot-kick had levelled the scores, and Titus Bramble headed the Magpies in front nine minutes before half-time.
Shola Ameobi should have levelled Bullard's superb fifth-minute free-kick when presented with an open goal within three minutes, but he headed wide. The striker was then involved in the incident which was to end his own afternoon and eventually that of Jackson. Ameobi, Jackson and Filan all collided as the defender headed Nolberto Solano's cross just wide of his own goal. Ameobi departed with a cut mouth before being replaced by Michael Chopra, giving the kid a rare chance to show he is Premiership quality.
De Zeeuw's exit with a fractured collar bone following a robust challenge by Stephen Carr compounded Wigan's woes and opened the door for the home side. Reto Ziegler's 27th-minute nudge on Chopra prompted referee Uriah Rennie to point to the spot and Shearer duly converted, and Newcastle were in front nine minutes later when the unmarked Bramble powered home a Solano corner.
Chopra almost made Ziegler pay for allowing himself to be caught in possession within two minutes of the restart, with substitute Leighton Baines gratefully conceding a corner from Solano's dangerous cross.
Wigan were struggling to make an impression, and Kavanagh was fortunate to escape with a yellow card after an ugly challenge on Dyer after 59 minutes.
Substitute Henri Camara kept Given on his toes with a long-range shot, while Filan had to pull off a fine save to deny Solano on 64 minutes, and he was left helpless seconds later. Chopra's through-ball was perfectly-timed to allow Shearer to beat the offside trap, and he rounded the goalkeeper to fire home.
The home fans rose in anticipation of a hat-trick six minutes later when Chopra once again fed Shearer, but his low shot flew across goal as the flag went up.
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