Northern Ireland international Will Grigg completed a hat-trick against Port Vale as Wigan closed the gap on the automatic promotion places.
Latics went ahead on seven minutes when Yanic Wildchut’s low cross was turned home at close range by Grigg.
Just before half-time Grigg was pulled down in the area and Vale defender Ryan McGivern was dismissed, before the striker got up to convert the spot kick.
With Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neil watching from the stands the striker completed his hat-trick on 69 minutes with a fine finish and enhanced his chances of playing in this summer’s European Championships in France.
Latics remain in fourth spot in the League One table, but with most of the teams around them losing or drawing they are now only five points off top spot and two points off second place with 17 games remaining.
Gary Caldwell made two changes from the team which drew 1-1 at Crewe last Saturday, with Haris Vuckic and Will Grigg replacing Michael Jacobs and Jordy Hiwula.
Latics were out of the traps quickly and immediately imposed themselves on a tentative looking Port Vale.
They went ahead after only seven minutes through Grigg after great work by Yanic Wildschut. The flying Dutchman out-sprinted his marker down the left hand side and pulled the ball to Grigg inside the six yard box and the striker got the final touch after an initial deflection by Vale defender Richard Duffy.
Latics continued to press forward and nearly went further ahead four minutes later.
Wildschut outwitted a Vale defender before trying to chip the advancing keeper Jak Alnwick. The ball rebounded off the keeper’s chest and fell to Grigg, but the striker couldn’t make a good enough contact and the ball came to Chris McCann whose cross shot flashed by Alnwick’s near post.
A rare Port Vale attack resulted in Jussi Jaaskelainen making a good save low down to deny a header from Matthew Kennedy.
Latics were soon back in control however and nearly doubled their lead when Wildschut and Grigg combined.
Wildschut produced another blistering run down the left hand side and crossed for Grigg, but the Irishman couldn’t make his effort count.
Grigg then had another chance on the half hour mark, when he met Wabara’s cross, but he was unable to get his effort on target.
However, Grigg did get his second on 41 minutes after winning a penalty. The striker looked to be through on goal, but the last defender Ryan McGivern wrestled him to the floor and was subsequently given a red card.
Grigg’s spot kick went into the net via the crossbar to give Latics a comfortable half-time lead.
The home team continued to dominate proceedings early in the second half.
Wildschut was a constant threat with his power and pace and the Dutchman nearly got on the score sheet when he once again tore through the heart of the Valiants defence.
The winger bombed down the left flank before cutting inside past several defenders, but just when it appeared he was going to score another wonder goal, his final effort went wide of the target.
Latics were now in total control and attacked in numbers. After some neat interplay on the edge of the Vale area, Max Power tried his luck, his shot from 20 yards just fizzing wide of Alnwick’s post.
On 69 minutes Latics added a third goal. Will Grigg completing his hat-trick with a cool finish after being played through by the excellent Chris McCann.
With Latics so dominant Gary Caldwell gave new singings Sam Morsy and Ryan Colclough the opportunity to make their debuts.
Colclough came close to capping his debut with a goal with 15 minutes remaining. The forward showed good skill to cut in from the right hand side and fired a shot just wide of the far post.
Wigan should have added further goals given their dominance, but a combination of poor finishing and last ditch defending by Vale somehow kept the score at 3-0.
Latics are increasing the pressure at the top of the table, they have now extended their unbeaten run to eight games and they are looking a good bet for promotion.