REPORT: NEWCASTLE 3 LATICS 0
A controversial penalty decision and subsequent sending off of Maynor Figueroa stunted Latics dominant start against Newcastle United in a game that eventually saw Demba Ba score twice, including dispatching the penalty and a thunderbolt from substitute Gael Bigirimana.
Roberto Martinez made one change coming into the game which saw Gary Caldwell return from injury to replace Adrian Lopez.
Latics were very bright starters and within the first 10 minutes Franco Di Santo had forced Tim Krul into a sprawling save after excellent one and two touch passing on the edge of the Newcastle box.
Within that time both Cheik Tiote and Papiss Cisse had made late challenges on Latics players which only free kicks were given for.
On 13 minutes came the controversial and game changing moment as quick interchange on the edge of Latics' area had Ba play Cisse in between the defence.
Figueroa chased down Cisse shoulder-to-shoulder and both went to ground with referee Mike Jones pointing straight to the spot despite the contact looking like it came from Cisse's leg onto Figueroa's.
Out came the red card to the shock of every Latics player with the decision for the penalty sending them into a state of confusion.
Ba put the penalty neatly into the bottom corner underneath Ali Al Habsi who had guessed the right way.
The numbers game was working for Newcastle who had extra space and could press high up the pitch.
A second goal followed on 22 minutes when that extra man paid off as Latics failed to close down Davide Santon who was advancing on goal.
His solid shot was well saved by Al Habsi but, popped up to Ba inside the box who poked the ball in despite pressure from Emmerson Boyce.
Newcastle continued to create chances in the first half but, Latics weren't giving up the fight as Ronnie Stam's bright wing play offered ideas.
At half time Lopez replaced Caldwell after the Scottish captain had been booked earlier in the half for a tackle from behind.
The second half passed with rare incident other than the passing chance on goal for the home side and then a third goal as Bigirimana rattled the ball into the top corner.
Bigirimana was given space on the edge of the area and, with the ball out of his feet he let fly with his left foot as the ball sailed beyond Al Habsi and in for 3-0.
Latics were made to defend continuously through large spells of the game due to the lack of that 11th man and despite a late attempt from Arouna Kone down the left by-line Latics couldn't find a way back into the game.