Blackburn 3 Wigan 1

  • By: Carl Markham, PA Sport
  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 18:55 BST

Ten-man Blackburn kept alive their hopes of UEFA Cup football next season with an impressive 3-1 victory over Barclays Premier League strugglers Wigan, who also had a player sent off late on.

Kirkland collides with Santa Cruz and Boyce.

Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz scored with two headers either side of an equaliser for the Latics' Marlon King and a goal from Jason Roberts on the stroke of half-time.

Rovers lost Christopher Samba to a 17th-minute red card for bringing down Emile Heskey in the incident which led to King's penalty but that only spurred them on.

Wigan had midfielder Wilson Palacios dismissed with 20 minutes to go for a second bookable offence but by then the game was already beyond the visitors.

Victory lifted Rovers to within a point of sixth-placed Aston Villa while the end of a four-match unbeaten streak will have the Latics looking anxiously at the bottom of the table.

The portents were not good for Wigan as early as the fourth minute as goalkeeper Chris Kirkland went down injured when, as he came to claim a high ball, he collided with Emmerson Boyce and fell awkwardly on his back.

However, after nearly four minutes of treatment the England international was able to continue.

And he showed no lingering signs of a problem as he got down sharply to turn aside David Bentley's 25-yard shot.

But in the 11th minute the Wigan keeper was at fault for the opening goal, the first he had conceded in six hours and 26 minutes.

Kirkland parried another long-range Bentley strike, this time from the left, straight up in the air and Santa Cruz could not miss with his six-yard header.

Antonio Valencia replied for Wigan with a dipping 30-yard volley but Brad Friedel saved comfortably.

But from their next attack the Latics won a penalty when Samba brought down Heskey with the slightest of touches as he ran through on goal.

Referee Mike Dean showed the red card to the centre-back and King dispatched the spot-kick - his first for the club since joining from Watford in January.

Mark Hughes switched Steven Reid to right-back and returned Andre Ooijer to the centre in order to keep his two strikers on the pitch and Blackburn could have gone ahead again in the 37th minute.

Bentley, from the same area in which he delivered the assist for the opening goal, curled in a free-kick which deflected off the wall and rebounded back from the angle of post and crossbar.

Wigan suffered a blow moments later when Erik Edman, in blocking Roberts' header, badly twisted his left knee as he landed and the Swede departed in some pain on a stretcher, replaced by Ryan Taylor.

And things got worse in the 44th minute when Roberts, playing against his former club, latched on to Santa Cruz's header to turn his marker and fire left-footed past Kirkland.

Reid's foul on Palacios gave Wigan an early chance in the second half but Taylor curled the free-kick over.

Rovers had a good shout for penalty in the 53rd minute when Bentley's searching ball picked out Santa Cruz.

The Paraguay striker raced into the box and was just about to shoot when Mario Melchiot's challenge brought him to a halt but referee Reid saw nothing wrong.

Blackburn's numerical disadvantage was unnoticeable, such was their work-rate, and Santa Cruz had a half-chance on the hour from Pedersen's left-wing cut-back but he skewed his shot wide.

But the striker grabbed the crucial third goal three minutes later when he stooped to head in Bentley's left-wing cross from close range.

Steve Bruce's immediate response was to send on Marcus Bent against his former club in place of King.

Brown tested Friedel with a swerving drive which the goalkeeper deflected for a corner, with Paul Scharner heading over Taylor's resulting cross.

Wigan's afternoon went from bad to worse when Palacios, who had been booked in the first half, went in late on David Dunn and was shown a second yellow and then red card.

With the game won Hughes finally sacrificed a striker, sending on midfielder Tugay for Roberts 12 minutes from time.

Wigan forced a number of corners in the latter stages but failed to take advantage.

Teams:

Blackburn Friedel, Ooijer, Samba, Khizanishvili, Warnock, Bentley, Reid, Dunn (Mokoena 84), Pedersen,Santa Cruz (McCarthy 89), Roberts (Kerimoglu 78).

Subs Not Used: Brown, Derbyshire.

Sent Off: Samba (16).

Booked: Bentley.

Goals: Santa Cruz 12, Roberts 45, Santa Cruz 63.

Wigan Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Edman (Taylor 41),Valencia, Brown, Palacios, Kilbane, King (Bent 64), Heskey.

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Aghahowa, Bramble.

Sent Off: Palacios (69).

Booked: Palacios, Brown, Melchiot.

Goals: King 17 pen.

Att: 23,541

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).