|Steed Malbranque scores again
Fulham dented Wigan's European aspirations with a fortuitous 1-0 win over Paul Jewell's men at Craven Cottage on Monday night.
Steed Malbranque's goal right on half time was enough to give Fulham the win they scarcely deserved after Wigan dominated proceedings for large periods of the game.
The win ends any lingering fears of relegation for Chris Coleman's men, but Wigan were left to rue their wastefulness in front of goal.
Fulham created the first chance of the game on three minutes with Steed Malbranque forcing Mike Pollitt into a good save with a long-range shot.
Wigan went close to scoring on 11 minutes when Gary Teale broke into the box past Wayne Bridge and after the ball broke to him from Ian Pearce he fired in a shot which Antti Niemi saved low down to his right.
Fulham striker Heidar Helguson had a sight of goal on 16 minutes when he rose to meet Bridge's cross from the left, but his header lacked the power to trouble Pollitt.
Helguson wasted another chance on 22 minutes when he swept Malbranque's cross from just inside the box over the top.
Wigan were unlucky not to break the deadlock on 25 minutes when Jason Roberts rose highest to meet Teale's cross, but the striker powered his header just wide of the target.
Lee McCulloch had two chances for Wigan soon after when firstly he headed wide from Jimmy Bullard's cross and then headed straight at Niemi from another Jimmy Bullard delivery.
The impressive Teale should have done better on 35 minutes when he cut inside Bridge and dragged his shot wide of the target.
Wigan continued to call the tune and Henri Camara missed a good opening just before half time when Roberts teed him up inside the box, but he drilled his shot wide of the target.
Fulham caught Wigan with a sucker punch right on the stroke of half time when Luis Boa Morte slipped Malbranque in on goal and the Frenchman clinically struck the ball past Pollitt.
The home side came out for the second half in determined fashion and Helguson almost doubled their lead with a neat turn and shot which Pollitt just about turned around the post.
Matt Jackson made a vital block soon after to keep out Malbranque's shot and when the ball dropped to Helguson he could only volley wide of the target.
Bullard tried his luck from long-range on 56 minutes, but his low drive was comfortably collected by Niemi.
Jackson had a half chance on the hour mark when he got on the end of Bullard's corner, but his header fell straight to Niemi.
Niemi produced a good save to deny Bullard on 68 minutes as Wigan continued to lay siege to the Fulham goal.
Camara had the next opportunity for Wigan on 80 minutes when he collected a pass from Roberts and blazed a left-footed shot from just inside the box over the crossbar.
Malbranque tried to stem the flow for the home side and he stung Pollitt's fingertips with a strike from the edge of the box.
Wigan almost grabbed the draw they deserved in injury time when Pascal Chimbonda cut the ball back for substitute David Connolly who mis-hit his shot in front of goal and when the ball dropped to Camara he could only fire his shot into the side-netting much to the frustration of Jewell on the sidelines.
Fulham Niemi, Rosenior, Pearce, Knight, Bridge, Malbranque,Diop, Elliott (Christanval 85), Boa Morte,Helguson (Radzinski 72), McBride.
Subs Not Used: Crossley, Volz, John.
Booked: Papa Bouba Diop (62,f),
Luis Boa Morte (76,f),
(83,ub), Brian McBride
Goals: Malbranque 45, left-footed into the top-right of the goal from the centre of penalty area, 12 yards out. The assist was a pass by Luis Boa Morte from the left.
Wigan Pollitt, Chimbonda, Jackson, Henchoz, Baines,Teale (Connolly 87), Bullard, Kavanagh, McCulloch, Camara,Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Johansson, Wright, Ziegler, Thompson.
Booked: McCulloch, Chimbonda.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).