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Mar 30, 2013

Wigan earns crucial three points

Wigan's survival bid gathered pace Saturday as Arouna Kone's solitary goal against Norwich nine minutes from time for a second straight Premier League win and three straight overall for Roberto Martinez's side.

Last season, a point at Carrow Road in March provided the impetus for the Latics to win seven of their last 10 games and engineer another great escape -- and this three points lifted them out of the Premier League's bottom three.

Wigan was lackluster for an hour but the threat on the Norwich goal grew and grew and the goal arrived in the 81st minute.

Wes Hoolahan lost the ball in midfield and it proved costly as Gomez picked out Kone, who smashed home from the edge of the box. It was a fine strike by the Ivorian but reserve Norwich keeper Lee Camp will feel he should have done better at his near post.

Norwich could not exert any real late pressure on Joel Robles' goal and Chris Hughton's side is now only four points ahead of Wigan in the table.

Wigan's players last week ventured as far afield as Australia, Bolivia, Argentina and Honduras -- and Martinez hailed the character that allowed them to grind out a vital victory.

"The character we showed today made it probably our most pleasing performance of the season," he said.

Also Saturday, Andy Carroll gave England boss Roy Hodgson a timely reminder of his talents as he inspired West Ham to an impressive 3-1 win over West Brom that eased any lingering hopes of relegation at Upton Park.

Carroll has endured a difficult time in east London since he arrived on loan from Liverpool last summer but he battered West Brom's ailing defense into submission.

The towering striker brushed off his marker and thumped a header past Ben Foster to put the Hammers ahead and then powered home a well-taken volley after Gary O'Neil had made it 2-0.

West Ham was good value for its victory, with Kevin Nolan, Mohamed Diame and O'Neil all impressing to move the Hammers on to 36 points -- two short of the figure Sam Allardyce thinks his team will need to avoid the drop.

Youssouf Mulumbu saw red in the dying seconds for needlessly booting the ball at O'Neil.

A late injury to George McCartney, who had just returned from a four-month lay-off, failed to dampen the spirits of the Hammers fans, who greeted the final whistle with a loud cheer.

Kevin Mirallas kept Everton's bid for Champions League football alive with the only goal to increase Stoke's worries as its slide down the table continued.

The Belgium international struck from an electrifyingly quick counterattack in the first half that left defenders trailing in his wake.

His sixth goal of the season, although only his third in 18 league appearances, was enough to ensure David Moyes' side built on its victory over Manchester City before the international break.

Everton began the day six points outside Champions League qualification but by the final whistle it was just four behind fourth-placed Chelsea, which slipped up at Southampton.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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