Latics failed to stall Brighton’s promotion celebrations and slipped further into relegation trouble with a 2-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.
Brighton dominated throughout but it was some woeful defending by Latics that ensured they were promoted to the Premier League with three Championship fixtures still remaining.
The home team went ahead on 37 minutes when Tomer Hemed in the box knocked down a route one ball from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray fired home past Haugaard.
Solly March added a second in the second half when his shot went straight through Haugaard’s legs and the Seagulls could have had many more as the Stoke City loanee keeper made a series of mistakes by dropping crosses and fumbling shots.
The Latics Board must surely be rueing signing the agreement for Haugaard to play a specified number of games or pay the financial penalty.
From a rare Latics attack substitute Nick Powell’s header gave them hope on 85 minutes but they failed to test Brighton keeper David Stockdale in the dying minutes and they are now five points from safety with only three games remaining.
Brighton need three more points from their three remaining games if they are to seal the Championship title.
Graham Barrow made two changes to the Latics line-up from the victory against Barnsley with Ryan Tunnicliffe and David Perkins replacing Callum Connolly and Sam Morsy.
In front of a bumper crowd of 29,940 and with Brighton going for promotion Latics knew they would have to be at their best to get anything from the game.
They coped well in the early minutes but some nervy goalkeeping by Haugaard wasn’t helping matters.
Anthony Knockaert’s free-kick into the box wasn’t held by Haugaard and Dunk should have scored but his effort was somehow bundled away. Dunk then got on the end of another Knockaert free-kick after 26 minutes but headed over.
The first Brighton goal was a route one affair on 37 minutes. Dunk launched a long ball from his own half, which was knocked down by Tomer Hemed in the box, and Glenn Murray fired home past Haugaard.
The Seagulls might have soon doubled their lead when Knockaert’s corner was headed in by Murray at the far post but the ball was judged to have crossed the line on its way from the corner.
David Perkins had a rare attempt at goal just before half time, but his effort was deflected for a corner.
With Latics only one goal down at the interval and with the likely introduction of Nick Powell and Ryan Colclough in the second half there was still hope that they could get something from the game.
However, the Latics keeper wasn’t inspiring any confidence in defence and he spilled Solly March’s left-wing cross and Hemed looked likely to score but Buxton managed to save Haugaard’s blushes.
Haugaard did make a good save on 52 minutes when he tipped Knockaert’s free-kick from 20 yards around his post.
Barrow made the expected change on 60 minutes replacing Ryan Tunnicliffe and Gabriel Obertan with Ryan Colclough and Nick Powell.
But before Latics could build any momentum they were 2-0 down on 65 minutes. Knockaert weaved his way past two Latics defenders and set up March who took a touch and fired through the hapless Haugaard’s legs at the near post.
Haugaard looked dreadfully uncomfortable and he flapped at an easy to catch cross which fell to Knockaert but the striker somehow failed to convert.
Barrow then introduced Sam Morsy in place of Shaun MacDonald as Latics tried to gain a foothold.
Powell had an attempt from 25 yards but Stockdale saved easily. Knockaert then had the ball in the net but was flagged offside and Murray produced a good cross which Knockaert just failed to reach.
But with 85 minutes on the clock Latics reduced the arrears through the prolific Nick Powell. The supersub met Jamie Hanson’s cross between two Brighton defenders in the six-yard box and angled his header into the corner of the net.
Powell has now scored five goals in his last three substitute appearances with a goal on average every 16.4 minutes.
Wigan now had a chance to get something out of the game. However, substitute Chuba Akpom might have increased Brighton’s lead but his shot from close range only hit the side netting.
Latics were given three minutes of added time to try and grab a point and postpone Brighton’s promotion but sadly they failed to get a shot on target. Just before the end Powell produced a mazey run beating several defenders but the last defender blocked his final shot and their last hope of a point was extinguished.
The final whistle was greeted with a massive cheer from the home fans and the inevitable mass pitch invasion to start the promotion party.