Wigan Athletic produced one their best performances of the season to demolish play-off chasing Aston Villa at the DW Stadium.
New signing Anthony Pilkington was the early catalyst but this was an all round team performance.
Debutant Pilkington produced a sublime piece of skill to set up Gary Roberts who rifled Latics into the lead on 41 minutes.
In the second half the expected surge from Villa didn’t materialise and the hosts increased their advantage on 79 minutes when substitute Michael Jacobs headed home at the back post from Lee Evans searching cross.
Joe Garner added a third from the penalty spot on 83 minutes after substitute Glen Whelan was adjudged to have brought down Josh Windass.
It was an important result for Latics as they won only their second game since November and moved six points clear of the drop zone and they will be hoping it will prove a turning point in their season.
Paul Cook made three changes to the team beaten by Sheffield United on New Year’s Day, with new signing Pilkington making his debut, goalkeeper Jamie Jones replacing Christian Walton and Windass replacing Darron Gibson.
Latics should have been ahead within the first three minutes as Reece James’ found Windass inside the six yard box but he could only hit his shot straight at Lovre Kalinic.
Villa had a glorious chance to open the scoring on 10 minutes after a mix up between Jones and Cedric Kipre allowed Yannick Bolasie to set up Tammy Abraham but the prolific striker missed the target with the goal at his mercy.
But Latics continued to create chances with new signing Pilkington making an instant impact linking up well with his new colleagues and providing some searching crossfield passes.
Kipre headed off target at the near post from a James corner and Garner forced a good save with his legs from Kalinic before Latics went ahead.
Pilkington showed great skill and composure before cutting the ball back to Roberts who superbly rifled the ball past Kalinic.
Latics had early chances to increase their lead in the second half when Windass wasted a good opportunity and Garner had a header blocked.
Villa were surprisingly lacklustre for a team packed with quality but Latics showed great determination and commitment to pin their opponents back.
It was therefore no surprise when Latics went further ahead.
Evans produced a superb deep cross to the back post and sub Jacobs returning from three months out with a hamstring injury dived to head home.
Four minutes later sub Whelan was adjudged by referee Tony Harrington to have brought down Windass and Garner stepped up to convert despite the best efforts of Kalinic.
A convincing scoreline but it could so easily have been more as Latics had thoroughly dominated their opponents.
It was a massive improvement on recent displays and with several key forwards coming back from injury the prospects for the rest of the season are looking much brighter as they look to maintain their Championship status.