NEWCASTLE United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League suffered a blow at the DW Stadium yesterday.
Alan Pardew’s side were beaten 4-0 by relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic.
Two goals from Victor Moses and strikes from Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo, effectively saw off Newcastle before the break.
United improved after the interval and Papiss Demba Cisse twice struck the woodwork as Pardew’s players attempted to find a way back into the game, which was all but lost inside the first half an hour.
After the game, Pardew was full of praise for Roberto Martinez’s team, who are battling to stay in the Premier League.
“We didn’t match the intensity of Wigan and in any Premier League game, that’s going to make you look bad,” said Pardew. “In the first 30 minutes, we just didn’t get a grip on them.
“But I don’t want to harp on too much about our disappointment, because I have to say Wigan were brilliant. In the first period, they were as good as anything I’ve seen in any of our last seven games.”
United, backed by 4,500 travelling fans, took to the field with high hopes of recording a seventh successive victory.
However, Moses all but saw off United in a devastating two-minute spell. The teenager met Emmerson Boyce’s right-wing cross with his head to send Martinez’s side into a 13th-minute lead.
Moses doubled the advantage two minutes later when he rolled a loose ball past Tim Krul to make it 2-0.
Pardew changed formation, pushing Davide Santon into midfield, but worse was to come later in the half. Di Santo played in Shaun Maloney with a superb ball and he beat Krul with a neat finish.
Maloney returned the favour in first half injury time when he found Di Santo just outside the box.
The striker dinked the ball over Krul to see off Newcastle, who fought back after the interval.
Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi stopped a Cisse volley in the 63rd minute and the 11-goal striker hit the post and the crossbar during a spell of United pressure.
Newcastle had captain Fabricio Coloccini to thank for a superb late sliding challenge to deny substitute Conor Sammon.
The result left United fourth in the Premier League ahead of this afternoon’s meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers at White Hart Lane.
Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi; Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Di Santo (Sammon, 68), Maloney, Moses (Gomez, 83). Subs not used: Pollitt, Crusat, Jones, Rodallega, Diame.
Newcastle United: Krul; Simpson (Perch, 81), Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Cabaye (Ferguson, 83), Tiote, Gutierrez; Ben Arfa (R Taylor, 73), Cisse, Ba. Subs not used: Elliot, Gosling, Best, Shola Ameobi.
Goals: Moses 13, 15, Maloney 36, Di Santo 45
Bookings: Alcaraz 19, McCarthy 38, Simpson 38
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirrall)
Read Miles Starforth’s full match report, plus more reaction and photos, in tomorrow’s Sportmail.