Demba Ba served up a timely reminder of his potency to end Newcastle’s wait for a Barclays Premier League victory against ten-man Wigan.
The 27-year-old’s first-half double ended a run of four successive league defeats for the injury-hit Magpies on a day when it emerged that the club’s ongoing efforts to renegotiate his contract to dispense with a troublesome release-clause are yet to pay dividends.
But Alan Pardew’s men were aided in no small part by the controversial 12th-minute dismissal of Honduras international Maynor Figueroa by referee Mike Jones, who later opted not to send off Scotland defender Gary Caldwell for what looked like a second bookable offence.
Ba, who worryingly for his manager limped off late in the game, converted the resulting penalty and then took his tally for the season to ten with a close-range finish after Davide Santon’s shot had been parried, with substitute Gael Bigirimana’s superb first goal for the club cementing just a second league victory in ten attempts.
There were 12 minutes on the clock when Vurnon Anita picked out Ba and he slid the ball into the run of strike partner Papiss Cisse. Figueroa came across to challenge the Senegal international, who ended up in a heap on the ground with Mr Jones interpreting his intervention as a penalty offence.
Having made that decision, he then had little option but to dismiss the defender and with the Wigan bench still furiously arguing their case – and wing-back Jean Beausejour having been booked for his protests - Ba thumped the spot-kick low to keeper Ali Al Habsi’s right to open the scoring.
The Magpies increased their lead seven minutes later. Left-back Santon headed forward with 21 minutes gone before cutting inside and unleashing a right-foot piledriver which Al Habsi simply could not handle, and Ba was in the right place to tap home the rebound. Former Coventry midfielder Bigirimana added some gloss to the scoreline with 19 minutes remaining, as he cut inside to curl a fine left-foot shot past the keeper and inside the far post.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon (Ferguson 49), Marveaux, Tiote (Bigirimana 46), Anita, Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi 75), Ba, Cisse. Subs Not Used: Harper, Shola Ameobi, Ranger, Tavernier.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Boyce, Caldwell (Lopez 46), Figueroa, Gomez (McArthur 23), Jones, McCarthy, Beausejour, Di Santo (McManaman 83), Kone. Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Boselli, Fyvie, Golobart.
Referee: Mike Jones.
Attendance: 43, 858