Aston Villa 2-0 Wigan

By John SinnottBBC Sport
Darren Bent and Gary Caldwell
Bent had missed Villa's two previous games with a groin injury

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent proved too sharp for Wigan as Aston Villa maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

Agbonlahor cut inside from the left before crashing a shot past Ali Al-Habsi into the roof of the net for Villa's opener.

Just past the hour Agbonlahor set up the second, crossing for Bent to net.

Wigan struggled to create chances and Shay Given was rarely troubled in the Villa goal.

The visitors, who had never lost in their previous six visits to Villa Park, were unable to replicate the type of threat that Agbonlahor and Bent offered Villa as Wigan slipped to a fourth successive defeat.

Alex McLeish delighted by 'great' Villa win

Victor Moses occasionally threatened with his close ball control and speed, while Franco Di Santo appealed for a second-half penalty when he went to ground after a challenge from Alan Hutton.

And Wigan, who won 10 corners to Villa's five, did improve after the introduction of James McArthur but the fact that it took until the 71st minute for Given to make a serious save - first from Shaun Maloney and then from Di Santo - tells its own story.

Given made a couple more stoppage-time saves, while Wigan also went close after a corner, which having evaded a packed penalty area was cleared off the line by Barry Bannan.

The Scottish midfielder had an impressive game for Villa and his passing and vision stood out throughout.

It was Bannan who released Agbonlahor for his goal with a long-range curling pass after Stephen Warnock had dispossessed Mohamed Diame.

As Bent pulled away to the far post, Agbonlahor opted to go it alone, motoring past Gary Caldwell before unleashing a shot into the roof of the net.

Early in the second half, Agbonlahor's willingness to take on the Wigan defence almost gave him a second goal but his shot went narrowly wide after a fine run.

Bent's ability to drift away from his markers offered Wigan a different challenge to contend with.

The England striker had come close with a first-half header from a Bannan free-kick and after a neat piece of ball juggling and fierce shot, Bent was then denied by a superb reaction save from Al-Habsi.

The Wigan keeper had a busy afternoon and during a sustained period of second-half Villa pressure he saved superbly to deny Bannan and then Stiliyan Petrov.

But there was nothing he could do about Villa's second when Agbonlahor crossed from the left and Bent finished with a precision volley.

In stoppage time Given was called into action when he got down quickly to save Moses' defected shot and then safely gathered another Di Santo effort.

Roberto Martinez disappointed by 'careless' Wigan

It is a defeat - given the way that Wigan struggled to create chances - that will provide plenty for Roberto Martinez to think about, particularly after he turned down the offer of talks over the Villa job in the summer.

Indeed Villa were so dominant they had the luxury of leaving former Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia on the bench until the 75th minute.

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish: "At last we had big levels from our creative players. That's probably what's been missing in the past few games.

"We have had a lot of opportunities without executing the final ball and for me that has happened in a lot of games.

"I think the players have been very keen to get results for my staff and myself. We have a good relationship.

"There may have been a bit of anxiety in that respect. We have had solid performances from defenders and Shay Given in goal, who have to be the most consistent players in the team.

"If we can get the other creative players to the same level, they can cause any defender problems."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez: "We started the game really bright and found space well but we gave the ball away cheaply a couple of times and we got heavily punished for the goals.

"Goals change the dynamics of the game and it is a real shame because when you go away from home and get 10 corners, it is a real attacking intent.

"We had enough chances with a little bit more composure could have got the goal we needed. But overall we are disappointed in ourselves."

"Franco Di Santo doesn't need to go down because he was ready to pull the trigger. It was a penalty. Hutton makes contact."

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