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  • Wigan Athletic 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Pavlyuchenko double

    Roman Pavlyuchenko came in out of the cold to seal a 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium that sent Tottenham Hotspur back into the top four of the Premier League.

    The Russian striker came off the bench with little over a quarter of an hour remaining to score two goals that settled Spurs' nerves after Jermain Defoe's first-half opener.

    Pavlyuchenko has found his first-team opportunities extremely limited by Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, and the pair have traded verbal blows via the media for much of the season.

    However, the club denied the 28-year-old a return to Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow last week, and they used him to decisive effect when he replaced Defoe on 73 minutes.

    Following the goalless draw between Manchester City and Liverpool, the win puts Tottenham back above their two rivals on goal difference. Wigan remain just two points above the relegation zone in 15th.

    A trip to Lancashire to play in heavy rain - on a pitch that was poor to start with and degenerated into a quagmire - is just the sort of fixture that would test Tottenham's top four credentials. While it was no surprise that captain Ledley King lasted less than an hour on the awful surface, the rest of the Spurs players coped well under the circumstances.

    Defoe was the first to get a sight of goal after an opening quarter of an hour in which both sides felt their way into the match. The England striker was played into the box by Tom Huddlestone, but Paul Scharner dived across to make an important block just as Defoe pulled the trigger.

    However, Tottenham's goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was called into action before his counterpart Chris Kirkland, as Hugo Rodallega forced him to tip a shot from distance over the bar midway through the half.

    After bagging a five-goal haul in the 9-1 drubbing of Wigan at White Hart Lane earlier in the season, Defoe opened the scoring for Spurs on 27 minutes, though his 22nd goal of the season should not have stood.

    Referee Alan Wiley allowed Spurs to play the advantage following a foul in midfield, and Niko Kranjcar found the impressive Gareth Bale on the left. The Welsh full-back picked out Defoe, who was a yard offside. He converted the simplest of finishes before sheepishly looking across to the linesman, who inexplicably kept his flag down.

    After the break Wigan began to find a way of playing their passing game on the pitch the club shares with rugby league side Wigan Warriors but, for all the neat football, they could not create anything to threaten Gomes's goal.

    Defoe, meanwhile, had a solid strike saved by Kirkland on the hour mark, and another shot on the turn blocked by the keeper 10 minutes later.

    Redknapp replaced Kranjcar with Luka Modric before bringing in Pavlyuchenko, and the pair combined for the Russian to send a clear message to his manager.

    The Croatian playmaker made his way forward before slipping a through ball into the Russian's feet, and he hooked a clinical finish past Kirkland, prompting enthusiastic celebrations from his team-mates that betrayed their views on the matter.

    Deep into stoppage time, Pavlyuchenko added a third with a touch of class. Kirkland saved his initial glancing header from a Huddlestone free-kick, but the 28-year-old used his quick feet to control, shift position and lift the ball delicately over the keeper and into the net to put gloss on the scoreline.
    Tony Mabert / Eurosport


    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Caldwell, Scharner, Figueroa, Thomas, Diame, McCarthy, N'Zogbia, Moreno, Rodallega. Subs: Stojkovic, Watson, Scotland, Moses, Gomez, Sinclair, Boyce

    Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, King, Bale, Bentley, Huddlestone, Palacios, Kranjcar, Crouch, Defoe. Subs: Alnwick, Kaboul, Pavlyuchenko, Modric, Gudjohnsen, Bassong, Rose


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