By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the DW Stadium
Wigan Athletic 4 (Moses 13, 15; Maloney 36; Di Santo 45)
Newcastle United 0
A miserable first half performance condemned Newcastle United to their first defeat in seven games, as they went down 4-0 at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
All the goals came in the opening period, with Victor Moses firing home a quickfire double before Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo increased the advantage even further with half-time approaching.
The Latics fully deserved their lead having been excellent, but Newcastle were much improved after the break and Papiss Cisse had three good chances - striking the woodwork with two of them.
Hatem Ben Arfa also went close, but it just wasn't to be the Magpies' day.
Wigan made most of the early running, without being able to fashion any clear-cut chances, and only a weak Moses stabbed effort in the seventh minute came anywhere near troubling Magpies stopper Tim Krul.
At the other end, Cisse's first goalscoring opportunity came seconds later but, meeting a fierce Yohan Cabaye free-kick which was drilled across goal, he was unable to keep his header down.
But it was Wigan who made the breakthrough on 13 minutes through Moses. Latics wing-back Emmerson Boyce cut inside the challenge of Davide Santon before curling a left-footed cross right into the heart of the box, where Moses was waiting to direct a looping header into the top corner.
It was the first goal United had conceded in five games, and things got even worse less than two minutes later as that man Moses struck again. Having given the ball to Jean Beausejour out wide on the left, the little forward raced into the box and was in the right place to fire home when Fabricio Coloccini cut out Beausejour's cross.
Newcastle tried to respond and a switch in formation to match Wigan's own 3-4-3, led to them getting more of a grip on proceedings. Ben Arfa was inches away with a 25-yard free-kick had Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi beaten, but in the 36th minute the hosts made it 3-0 with a superb, slick move.
Franco Di Santo's first-time pass split the United defence and Maloney ran in behind Danny Simpson to side-foot home across Krul and into the far corner.
Again, the visitors tried to hit back and get themselves into the contest. Jonas Gutierrez won possession on the left and fed Ben Arfa, whose low cut-back found Ba lurking on the edge of the box.
The Magpies' 16-goal leading scorer took a touch and struck a bouncing effort goalwards but it ended up just the wrong side of the upright, while Yohan Cabaye curled a free-kick over the top after James McCarthy had felled Davide Santon.
Newcastle were desperate for half-time, to get into the dressing room and regroup, but there was another sting on its way in added-on time. The hosts were given time and space to pass the ball around on the edge of the box, and Di Santo picked his spot with an outstanding chipped 25-yard effort which nestled perfectly in the top corner.
It was a quieter start to the second half started, but Wigan showed no signs of taking their foot off the pedal, highlighted by Moses jinking his way into the box and firing off target on 57 minutes.
The same player was then denied his hat-trick by a fine one-handed stop from Krul, after Beausejour worked some space on the left before delivering a low cross.
Cisse was looking to find the back of the net for the seventh successive game and came agonisingly close twice in the space of two minutes. First, Ben Arfa dinked a ball over the home rearguard, only for Al Habsi to stay big and parry away the Senegal striker's half-volley.
And then, in a very similar move - this time released by Santon - Cisse raced into the box and curled a shot onto the crossbar.
United's tails were up and Ben Arfa fashioned a chance out of nothing on 68 minutes when the Latics failed to deal properly with a corner. The French international tricked his way to a yard of space inside the penalty area, but could only fire inches wide with his right boot.
The chances were starting to flow and Cisse somehow headed against the woodwork from a matter of yards, after Ben Arfa had drilled a cross from the left flank into the six-yard box.
Manager Alan Pardew made his three substitutions in quick succession, replacing Hatem Ben Arfa, Danny Simpson and Yohan Cabaye with Ryan Taylor, James Perch and Shane Ferguson, but the trio were unable to help turn things around, and it was Wigan who almost grabbed their fifth of the afternoon with just three minutes left on the clock.
Replacement striker Conor Sammon raced through and slipped the ball past Krul, but Coloccini was on hand to slide in and clear the danger before Sammon could tap home.
Wigan Athletic (3-4-3): Ali Al Habsi; Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell (c), Maynor Figueroa; Emmerson Boyce, James McCarthy, James McArthur, Jean Beausejour; Victor Moses (Jordi Gomez 83), Franco Di Santo (Conor Sammon 68), Shaun Maloney
Subs not used: Mike Pollitt, Mohamed Diame, Albert Crusat, David Jones, Hugo Rodallega
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson (James Perch 81), Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Hatem Ben Arfa (Ryan Taylor 73), Yohan Cabaye (Shane Ferguson 83), Demba Ba; Papiss Cisse
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Attendance: 22,187 (4,500 Newcastle)