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'Super Pav' seals win

Jermain Defoe and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the goals as a fifth Premier League away win of the season was recorded against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Sunday.

Jermain Defoe and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the goals as a fifth Premier League away win of the season was recorded against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Sunday.

One goal in the first half and two in the second secured a hard-fought 3-0 victory, the first being crafted by Gareth Bale and the second by two subs - Luka Modric the creator and Defoe's replacement Pavlyuchenko applying the decisive touch. Pavlyuchenko added a third for good measure in injury time.

There was one change to the starting line-up from last weekend's FA Cup draw at Bolton, with Niko Kranjcar taking over left midfield duties from Luka Modric.

On a glue pot of a pitch there was little action of note in the first 15 minutes as both teams struggled to adapt to the conditions. A clever free-kick from Gareth Bale did give Defoe space in the area, but the striker did not realise how much time he had and attempted to clip the ball further inside rather than take a shot on.

David Bentley, operating on the right, moved in-field and attempted to test Chris Kirkland from distance but his shot took a deflection and was easily gathered by the former Liverpool goalkeeper.

Wigan got a sharp combination going just after the 20 minute mark between Marcelo Moreno and Hugo Rodellaga, the latter unleashing a fierce drive that required Heurelho Gomes to athletically tip over the crossbar.

In the 26th minute, after a little spell of more composed pressure on the sticky surface, Peter Crouch played across to Kranjcar who in turn spotted the run outside of him of galloping Bale. The energetic left-back dispatched a precise low centre to where Defoe was waiting to apply a finish for his 22nd goal of the season.

The contest had a feisty edge to it and there were one or two challenges that could have led to cards being waved as the Wigan response to going behind was repelled successfully and without great alarm.

A Crouch header from a Bentley corner came close to falling kindly for Vedran Corluka in the opening attacking sortie of the second half - Kirkland doing well to grab under pressure from the Croatian.

Defoe was caught by Gary Caldwell inside the area after the striker superbly took Bentley's crossfield ball in his stride, but referee Mr Wiley was not about to point spotwards.

Sebastien Bassong replaced Ledley King on 52 minutes after the skipper appeared to be struggling following a challenge on the stretch.

Play became disjointed as the clock moved towards the hour mark. Wigan introduced new signing Victor Moses in an attacking move given that the player to make way was Hendry Thomas. Moses made an impact and forced some sound handling from Gomes almost straight away, the former Crystal Palace youngster drilling in a low shot that had to be held or a rebound would most likely have been converted.

Wigan stepped up the pace and there were vital interceptions from both Bassong and Michael Dawson before Kranjcar set Defoe free on goal but Kirkland managed to divert his effort wide.

At the other end Charles N'Zogbia curled narrowly over after being teed up by Moreno, just before Harry Redknapp oversaw the introduction of Modric in a swap for Kranjcar. Modric was quickly in on the action with a dribbling forward and picking out of Defoe who spun and shot, forcing a good save from Kirkland.

Defoe and Crouch just failed to open the gate with a neat piece of interchange before Roman Pavlyuchenko was added to an increasingly tetchy mix.

Modric then ploughed through the central area of the pitch with the ball at his feet and delivered perfectly into the run of Crouch. With just Kirkland to beat the striker could not avoid the goalkeeper and another big chance went begging.

Gomes had to have a second grab at a James McCarthy shot before the game could have been sealed when the influential Modric struck the post from a Bentley supply line from the right hand side.

A doubling of the advantage came in the 83rd minute when again Modric skipped through the mud and prodded into the path of Pavlyuchenko, who made no mistake in slotting past Kirkland.

The Russian added another to his account in stoppage time, forcing Kirkland into a brilliant stop to deny his header from a Huddlestone free-kick, before somehow managing to squeeze home the rebound from an acute angle.