Premier League: Aston Villa 0 Wigan Athletic 3
Aston Villa fell to a 3-0 loss at home to Wigan on Saturday - a performance that is sure to pile the pressure onto Paul Lambert's side.
The Villans endured a horrendous opening when Ivan Ramis headed in unmarked from a corner, and almost gave away a penalty moments later, but looked to be recovering their confidence shortly before half time.
Wigan however took advantage of Villa's swashbuckling opening to the second half, and Emmerson Boyce finished a quick move that caught Villa off guard with a sweeping finish, and minutes later Arouna Kone added a third after some more lax defending.
The heavy defeat means Villa have shipped 15 goals in three matches since their win over Liverpool at Anfield, and have failed to trouble the scorers in that run.
Lambert changed formation after conceding the third and attempted to restore some morale, but plenty of fans had left the ground before the final whistle concluded a worrying performance.
Aston Villa's young side had gone into the game following two heavy defeats and Lambert responded with an attack-minded 3-5-2 naming Stephen Ireland, Barry Bannan and Brett Holman in midfield. Wigan however looked boosted by the return of Ramis at centre-back and forced the home side to endure a harrowing opening at Villa Park.
After just two minutes right back Matt Lowton was lucky not to give away a penalty after putting his hand to a long ball towards Franco Di Santo. Justice was served from the resulting corner as Jean Beausejour's floated delivery found the unmarked Ramis on the edge of the six-yard box for the Spaniard to head the ball past Brad Guzan and take advantage of poor marking from Christian Benteke.
Villa looked shaken by the concession and Wigan looked as though they might overwhelm their inexperienced opponents for the opening half hour, in which the home side struggled to keep the ball and were restricted to a speculative shot from Andreas Weimann and hopeful long balls towards Benteke.
Shaun Maloney could have won a penalty inside the opening 10 minutes when Ireland failed to track the Scotland international's run onto Beausejour's through ball down the left edge of the box, then committed what looked a foul on the edge of the box in attempting to win the ball back. Beausejour found a lot of space on the left flank through the half and teed up Maloney who shot over the bar, while strikers Kone and Di Santo failed to make the most of good work from their midfield.
Villa grew in confidence however towards the end of the half, with Lowton and Bennett each contributing from the wings as their midfield began to maintain possession. Benteke had the ball in the back of the net after good work from Holman but the Australia international had earlier found Weimann offside. Maloney was booked for a foul in frustration just before the break, and from the free kick, Benteke headed back across goal for Holman to strike the bar from a tight angle.
The hosts continued the second half as they left off, with their midfield impressing and together with right-back Lowton getting well forward to maintain possession in the Wigan half. Wigan however took the exposed Villains by surprise and extended their lead with a quickly taken throw-in reaching Maloney in the centre of the pitch.
The playmaker found Boyce who drove towards the box and found Kone before receiving the ball back again on the edge of the box. The right-back swept the ball into the bottom-left corner in an excellent finish.
Minutes later Kone netted a third as Di Santo threaded a through-ball from outside the edge of the box to the Ivorian, who withstood a weak challenge from Lowton before rounding Guzan before rolling the ball into the net to seal a comprehensive win for Roberto Martinez's men.