Demba Ba struck twice as Newcastle United ended a four-match losing run in the Premier League with a 3-0 win over 10-man Wigan Athletic at St James' Park.
Ba converted his opening goal from the penalty spot on 13 minutes after Maynor Figueroa was sent off for bringing down Papiss Demba Cisse as he darted onto a pass from Ba.
It was a harsh call with doubts remaining over whether or not Figueroa had fouled the home forward or if he was the last man. Referee Mike Jones was quick to point to the spot before producing a red card that probably spoiled the game as a contest.
With Wigan clearly toiling against the 11 men, Ba added the second goal from close range on 21 minutes when Ali Al Habsi failed to hold a long-range effort from Davide Santon. Ba was well positioned to slip the ball home from close range.
The Senegalese striker joins Liverpool's Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie of Manchester United and Swansea's Michu at the top of scoring charts on 10 goals.
Teenager Gael Bigirimana buried the third - his first goal for Newcastle - when he sent a shot crashing beyond Al Habsi from the edge of the visiting box on 71 minutes.
At 19 years and 42 days old, Bigirimana is the third-youngest Premier League scorer this season and Newcastle’s youngest player to score in the division in eight years – since James Milner (18 years and 265 days) in 2004.
Newcastle remain 14th in the table, but are now three points clear of Wigan.
Victory was Newcastle's first in the league since October 28, while Wigan lost their fifth of seven league away matches this season.
Newcastle began the match on the front foot with Cheik Tiote driving a shot a couple of yards wide from 25 yards out that narrowly eluded the target on two minutes.
Franco Di Santo curled the ball at goal from distance at the other end, but Tim Krul dived to his left to nudge the shot wide before Figueroa's sending off gave the home side the platform to produce a convincing win.
Wigan captain Gary Caldwell was lucky to avoid a red card after he missed the ball before dragging down Ba on 36 minutes. He had earlier been booked for a late tackle on Ba and was replaced by Adrián López Rodríguez at half-time with Wigan keen to avoid being reduced to nine men.
Sylvain Marveaux knocked a shot at the visiting goal from the edge of the box, but Al Habsi was alert to make the save on 52 minutes.
Bigirimana had replaced Tiote at half-time for the home side and was a real driving force alongside Vurnon Anita in the midfield area with Wigan's best moments coming courtesy of the energy of Ronnie Stam, who delivered a series of dangerous crosses.
Cisse managed to squeeze a shot at goal from Shane Ferguson's pass with a minute remaining, but it never had the power to beat Al Habsi.
Newcastle ended the match with 10 men as Ba limped off on 87 minutes clutching a hamstring after his side had used their substitutes. Manager Alan Pardew is not overly concerned about the seriousness of the injury.
There was real relief among the home fans as Pardew avoided becoming the first Newcastle manager to lose five straight games in the Premier League.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Demba Ba - Newcastle United: Forced off the park with a hamstring injury in the closing minutes but had already scored a couple of goals to justify his place in the team.
Newcastle: Krul 7; Simpson 7, Williamson 6, Coloccini 6, Santon 7; Tiote 7, Anita 8; Cisse 7, Marveaux 7, Gutierrez 6; Ba 8. Subs: Ferguson 6, Sammy Ameobi 6, Bigirimana 8.
Wigan: Al Habsi 5, Kone 7, McCarthy 7, Caldwell 5, Jones 6, Di Santo 7, Gomez 6, Boyce 6, Beausejour 7, Stam 8, Figuero 5. Subs: McArthur 6, McManaman 6, López 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Newcastle United
- Demba Ba
- Wigan Athletic
- Maynor Figueroa