Aston Villa were booed at the full-time whistle as they suffered their third consecutive Premier League defeat following a humiliating loss to Wigan Athletic at Villa Park.
Manager Paul Lambert called for a reaction from his players after they were hammered 8-0 and 4-0 by Chelsea and Tottenham in their last two games, but they produced another sluggish display and were comfortably beaten.
Lambert made four changes from the side which lost to Spurs on Boxing Day as injuries to key players hampered his selection plans.
Nathan Baker was ruled out with a hamstring injury so Eric Lichaj came in at right wing-back which meant Matthew Lowton moved into the trio of centre-backs.
Andreas Weimann overcame a calf injury to replace the suspended Fabian Delph while Stephen Ireland and Barry Bannan were preferred to Ashley Westwood and Karim El Ahmadi.
The claret and blues made a nightmare start to the game after they conceded from a corner in only the third minute.
Former Birmingham winger Jean Beausejour whipped a dangerous ball into the penalty area and Wigan defender Ivan Ramis caught Christian Benteke half asleep to powerfully head home after he lost his marker.
The home side continued to look under the weather and were given a let off shortly afterwards when Ireland fouled Villa old boy Shaun Maloney inside the penalty area but referee Kevin Friend waved away the Wigan appeals.
Villa finally started to find their stride and were unlucky not to get more out of jinking runs from Joe Bennett and Benteke as the first half wore on.
The claret and blues had the ball in the net in the 35th minute when Benteke slammed home from 10 yards out but the Belgium was teed up by Weimann who had been in an offside position.
Lambert’s side created their best chance of the game shortly before half-time when Bannan’s free-kick from deep was met by the head of Benteke and his knock down found Brett Holman who struck the crossbar from a tight angle.
The Villa boss sent his players out early for the second half, however it was Wigan who began with the greater vigour as they struck twice within the space of four minutes to effectively seal the win.
Emmerson Boyce showed great strength to hold off the Villa defence in the 52nd minute and played a neat one-two with Arouna Kone before he drilled a low shot past Brad Guzan into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Kone had been a nuisance to the Villa defence all afternoon and his persistence was rewarded moments later when he got on the end of a brilliant ball from Franco Di Santo spun Matthew Lowton and finished from a tight angle.
The Ivory Coast international was unlucky not have a second in the 74th minute when he got on the end of long punt up field to find himself one-on-one with Guzan only to run with ball out of play after a heavy touch as he tried to take the ball round the Villa keeper.
Lambert threw on Marc Albrighton, Jordan Bowery and El Ahmadi in a bid to change things but Villa created little of note in the remainder of the game and had a few lucky escapes as Wigan looked to hit them on the counter.
By Timothy AbrahamSubscribe to our Newsletter