Kone double lifts Wigan out of bottom three
Premier League, Madejski Stadium – Reading 0 Wigan Athletic 3 (Kone 44, 45, Figueroa 48)
Wigan Athletic leapfrogged Reading and moved out of the relegation zone after a comfortable 3-0 win at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading’s woes were compounded by the second-half sending off of Pavel Pogrebnyak for a cynical foul on Figueroa.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez made a raft of changes from the side that beat Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup last weekend, with Gary Caldwell, James McCarthy and Jean Beausejour among seven players restored to the starting line-up. Defender Antolin Alcaraz was on the bench for the first time since tearing his groin on international duty in September.
Wigan started in sprightly fashion and Franco Di Santo came close to giving them the lead after just three minutes. The Argentine bulldozed his way forward from the halfway line, outmuscling two Reading players, before forcing a fine low save out of Adam Federici.
Reading, though, began to hit their stride, with Jimmy Kebe a threat down the right.
Hope Akpan headed a presentable chance over the bar after making contact with a right-wing cross. The former Crawley player really should have drawn his side level from six yards.
Reading were bossing proceedings, but all too often were hurried in their play, and it was the visitors who showed the greater quality going forwards.
Emmerson Boyce's pass found Kone in the area and the Ivorian curled in a goal-bound effort that was pushed behind by Federici, as Wigan regained the ascendancy.
Wigan took a deserved lead after 44 minutes. Gary Caldwell headed a corner into the ground, Jean Beausejour knocked the ball goalwards, but the final touch was Kone’s.
If there was any half-time debate in the Latics dressing room over who should claim the first, there was no doubt about the second.
Kone latched onto Beausejour’s angled through ball and lifted it clinically over the onrushing Federici.
The Madejski Stadium was stunned and the Reading players walked off to a chorus of boos at the half-time whistle.
The game was quickly put beyond Reading at the start of the second-half, despite the half-time introduction of Adam Le Fondre who has scored six goals as a substitute this season.
Figueroa played a sumptuous one-two with Di Santo and dispatched a calm finish beyond Federici to ensure the Latics would be heading north with all three points.
Wigan quickly sliced Reading open again and the lively Di Santo just failed to connect with a Boyce cross at the far post.
Reading never troubled Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, and no one looked more frustrated than Pogrebnyak who was given a straight red card for raking his studs down the ankle of Figueroa after 55 minutes.
Figueroa came close to adding to his goal when he unleashed a fierce shot that was turned away by the overworked Federici for a corner.
By some distance Reading’s best player, Federici had to be on his mettle again to save a shot from Jordi Gomez, who had scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture at the DW Stadium.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Paul Scharner, Wigan - Put in a great defensive shift to nullify the Reading attack and ensure that Al-Habsi was a virtual bystander all afternoon.
READING: Federici 8, Kelly 6, Harte 5, Mariappa 6, Morrison 6, Karacan 5, Leigertwood 5, Akpan 5, Kebe 6, McAnuff 5, Pogrebnyak 4. Subs: McCleary 5, Hunt 5, Le Fondre 5.