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Heskey strike boosts Wigan survival bid

SoccerNews in English Premier League 19 Apr 2008

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Emile Heskey salvaged yet another point for Wigan Athletic with his equaliser in a 1-1 draw with visitors Tottenham Hotspur at the JJB Stadium here on Saturday.

The former England striker earned the Latics a shock 1-1 draw at English Premier League title-chasers Chelsea on Monday with an injury time equaliser.

But the muscular veteran did not leave it so long this time to cancel out Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov's sixth-minute opener for League Cup holders Spurs.

He scored just six minutes later to earn a point which could prove crucial in Wigan's fight to earn a fourth straight season in the top flight.

The result leaves the Latics 13th in the the table with 36 points, five above the trap door to the Championship, with three games remaining. Spurs are two places and six points above them.

Tottenham are out of the race for a UEFA Cup spot via the league, but they have already qualified through winning the League Cup.

Latics goalkeeper Chris Kirkland – outstanding in the draw at Chelsea – found himself in the action just 10 seconds in, but Spurs captain Robbie Keane's shot was weak, allowing the once-capped England man to make an easier save than it should have been.

The visitors' pacy winger Aaron Lennon then charged down to the goal-line before crossing a low ball into the penalty box, where Berbatov sidefooted in the opener comfortably.

Berbatov's 23rd goal of the season broke Wigan's home record of five successive clean sheets, a run which began in January.

Wigan did not heed the wake-up call and two minutes later Lennon burst past several Latics players before laying the ball off to Steed Malbranque who forced another excellent save out of Kirkland.

However, minutes later, Wigan broke away following a Keane error and from a Kevin Kilbane cross, Heskey turned on the ball and blasted a shot past goalkeeper Radek Cerny from 15 yards out.

Latics manager Steve Bruce thinks Heskey is the best English second striker going and the former Liverpool man will not have done his chances of an international recall any harm with this performance.

Wigan skipper Mario Melchiot was fortunate not to have conceded a penalty when he bundled Berbatov over in the box.

In the second half, Wigan had a string of chances, Marcus Bent missing the best of them by crashing a shot against the crossbar.

Then Tottenham's Jermaine Jenas fired over the bar after good work in the build-up from Keane.

Both Bent and Heskey limped off with injuries sustained late in the match, which could give Bruce plenty to worry about as the season reaches its climax, though he should have more to cheer than Spurs boss Juande Ramos following this entertaining draw.

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