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West Ham 2 Wigan 1 By Bill Pierce, PA Sport
What looked an opening-day stroll for West Ham turned into a real battle for the points as gutsy Wigan fought back after Dean Ashton hit two goals at Upton Park.
Once Ashton had given the Hammers a flying start with a double in the first 10 minutes it looked like being a bad day for Wigan manager Steve Bruce, who steered his team out of relegation danger to 14th place last term.
But they roared back, sensing uncertainty in the Hammers ranks and after Emile Heskey set up a strike for new Egyptian signing Amr Zaki in the 47th minute, it was all hands to the pump for West Ham - especially after their blond centre forward hobbled off with 17 minutes left.
In only the fourth minute, after Wigan had gone forward from the start, Frenchman Julien Faubert was allowed all the time and space he needed on the right to drive in a cross.
Ashton, who scored six goals in five pre-season friendlies, continued his hot streak by controlling the ball superbly on the edge of the area and shrugging off Paul Scharner to fire a rocket past Chris Kirkland into the roof of the net.
West Ham were stretched to clear successive crosses from Antonio Valencia - but Ashton added a second with a flick from close range after Faubert's left-wing corner.
It looked the perfect performance by the striker, who came back with 11 goals last season after breaking his ankle training with England at the start of the previous campaign.
But West Ham were in trouble when Ashton appeared to strain a hamstring taking a free-kick in the second half.
Both he and Scott Parker went off and Zaki, who has scored 27 goals in 48 matches for Egypt and is on loan from El Zamalek for the season, missed two chances to earn Wigan a point.
In the 15th minute another corner by Faubert, who had his own injury problems last season after a £6million move from Bordeaux, almost led to a third goal when Carlton Cole's goalbound backheader had to be tipped over by the leaping Kirkland.
West Ham were still without the injured Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy who missed most of last season with bad injuries and were hoping to begin their comebacks in time for the big kick-off.
Boss Curbishley was missing seven other first-team players - including defenders Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, George McCartney and Jon Spector.
Wigan kept trying to come forward and Cole, having forced Kirkland to tip over his back-header from another Faubert corner, cleared off his own line to deny Zaki
Both Cole and Faubert could have increased West Ham's lead before the break.
New Swiss defender Valon Behrami raided down the right to provide a crisp low cross which the sliding Cole could only stab at Kirkland - then Faubert's first touch let him down as he tried to sprint clear from Cole's clever square-pass.
Two minutes after the break, though, Wigan were back in it when Zaki, who is one of the world's leading international goalscorers, showed just why when he volleyed home Heskey's header.
Suddenly West Ham wobbled and debut-maker Olivier Kapo saw his on-target free kick deflected wide after Calum Davenport was booked for blatantly pulling back the dangerous Zaki.
Faubert fired high over after a neat link with the overlapping Behrami - but then Zaki missed badly at the other end when Kapo's pull-back gave him an unmarked header which he scuffed wide.
And with West Ham hanging on, the Egyptian skied substitute Daniel de Ridder's cross way over the bar.
West Ham Green, Behrami, Davenport, Upson, Neill, Faubert (Boa Morte 86), Parker (Mullins 72), Noble, Etherington, Ashton (Sears 73), Cole.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Reid, Bowyer, Spence.
Booked: Parker, Davenport.
Goals: Ashton 3, 10.
Wigan Kirkland, Melchiot (De Ridder 83), Scharner (Koumas 83), Boyce, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole (Sibierski 85), Palacios, Kapo, Heskey, Zaki.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Kilbane, Brown, Bramble.
Goals: Zaki 47.
Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).