Premier League: Wigan 1 Fulham 2
By Football News
At the DW Stadium, it was the home side, Wigan that began well however it was former Latics striker Hugo Rodallega who broke the deadlock for Fulham, sending a powerful header past Ali Al-Habsi from the impressive Dimitar Berbatov's inch-perfect cross.
And despite an improved second-half showing from Wigan in which they missed several chances, winger Damian Duff hammered a low drive into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to seal the three points for Fulham.
Arouna Kone pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late for the home side.
Perhaps eager to end their recent hoodoo against Fulham, it was Wigan who made the better start to the contest.
Fulham struggled to maintain any concerted periods of pressure with Wigan the more committed in midfield.
Referee Lee Probert was the unlikely man to discover just how tough both sides were in the tackle, taking a double challenge from Ben Watson and Steve Sidwell - much to the mirth of the 25,000 packed into the DW Stadium.
Slowly but surely however, the momentum began to swing in favour of Fulham.
Firstly, Sidwell's near-post flick from a Duff corner was acrobatically cleared on his own goal-line by Jean Beausejour with Rodallega ready to pounce, before the influential Berbatov tried his luck from 30 yards - Al-Habsi taking no chances to pat the Bulgarian's swerving effort behind.
Wigan struggled to get a foothold in the game after their bright start but Emmerson Boyce wasted a glorious opportunity, heading fellow full-back Maynor Figueroa's pinpoint cross wide.
And the home side were made to pay for their profligacy as Fulham took a 31st-minute lead in a simple, yet elegant manner.
Berbatov lofted in a precision cross from the right and Rodallega timed his run to perfection to bullet a header past Al-Habsi, with celebrations limited out of respect for his former club.
Wigan responded well to going behind and were unlucky not to restore parity before the break when Beausejour's perfectly weighted cross was well met by Jordi Gomez - the Spaniard unfortunate to see his guided effort smash the crossbar and bounce away to safety.
Perhaps stung by their manager's words at half-time, it was the home team who once again leapt out of the blocks the quicker in the second period with Gomez carelessly straying offside when unmarked.
Unlike the first 45 minutes, Wigan were converting their superior possession into chances and Kone should have done better than to fire straight at Mark Schwarzer after racing clear.
But moments after Mauro Boselli passed up a gilt-edged chance to equalise, Fulham sprang down the other end to double their lead.
With Wigan committing more and more players forward, substitute Bryan Ruiz's hard work paid dividends in eventually switching the ball across the penalty area to Duff, who sent a rasping low drive beyond Al-Habsi.
Again the home side tried to hit back quickly and Fulham had Schwarzer to thank for preserving their two-goal cushion, the Australian tipping Ivan Ramis' close-range header onto the crossbar from Beausejour's free-kick.
And as the game drew to its conclusion, the West London outfit came close to extending their winning margin on the break, with the tiring Berbatov unfortunate to see his instinctive finish pushed wide by Al-Habsi.
Kone eventually converted a Wigan chance after a goalmouth scramble to pull a consolation back for the hosts but it ultimately proved too little too late as Fulham moved into the top four for the time being, leaving Wigan to rue missed chances as their search for consistency continues.