Two goals from Clint Dempsey rounded off a fine attacking display from the Whites in an entertaining affair at the Cottage.
Following a cautious start by both sides, this game sparked into life with good opportunities falling to both teams in the early stages.
A long ball down the left flank had the Fulham defence stretched on the six minute mark, but good defensive work from Jonathan Greening blocked Tom Cleverley’s drive from the edge of the area. Moments later the Wigan defence had to desperately clear their lines when a corner from Simon Davies bounced down in the area after a spill from Al Habsi.
Davies’ accuracy from the set-piece again caused Roberto Martinez’s men problems when a well taken free kick found the head of Brede Hangeland in the Wigan area. Unfortunately Hangeland’s header drifted just over the bar.
Fulham certainly had the better of the opening exchanges and were playing with positive intentions from midfield, getting the ball into dangerous areas at every opportunity.
A fine attacking run from Carlos Salcido resulted in Zoltan Gera winning a free-kick in a dangerous position. The Hungarian international took the set-piece which flew just over Al Habsi’s crossbar as Fulham started to find their range.
The action switched to the other end where Charles N’Zogbia showed his pace down the left flank to smash a rising effort over the bar.
Fulham took the lead on the half-hour mark after a fine piece of build-up play. The lively Zoltan Gera set the move in motion and fed a pass out to Salcido. The Mexico international made good ground down the left flank before crossing perfectly for Dempsey to glance his header past Al Habsi from six yards.
The Whites continued search for a second as the half-time interval neared. Danny Murphy was instrumental in Fulham’s passing moves in the middle and in Carlos Salcido there was always an excellent outlet down the left flank.
Zoltan Gera almost netted twice from two good opportunities but was unlucky to graze the outside of the post following a good move from the Whites before seeing his header from six yards go over.
Dempsey scored his second on 44 minutes when he powerfully volleyed past Al Habsi after Chris Baird played a smart cross into the danger area.
The second-half started brightly for the Whites as they stroked the ball around the Wigan half with great panache. Dembele caught the eye with as he shrugged off a couple of challenges on the edge of the Wigan are before seeing his shot blocked.
The impressive Carlos Salcido almost added a third goal after twisting and turning away from two markers out wide before seeing his cross bounce off the crossbar with Al Habsi backpedalling furiously.
The attacking activity died down somewhat as the half progressed, with Wigan looking to keep a tighter grip on Fulham’s attacks. Although Mohamed Diame did well to bustle his way through Fulham’s defence on 61 minutes but ultimately ran out of space and was only able to scuff his shot straight out for a goal kick.
Fulham appeared to get stronger as the second-half went on and, at times, Wigan were keeping the score down through a string of last ditch tackles.
Gera warmed Al Habsi’s palms on 75 minutes with a fierce drive from 20 yards. The Wigan keeper could only parry the effort out into the path of Dembele whose shot was deflected over for a corner.
Andrew Johnson came on in place of Simon Davies on 80 minutes. The change saw Clint Dempsey move out to the left wing and Johnson partner Dembele up front.
It was a telling statistic that it took until the 82nd minute for Wigan to register their first corner of the game. Mark Hughes replaced the excellent Danny Murphy with Kagisho Dikgacoi on 85 minutes; the Fulham Captain went off to a rapturous ovation from the Cottage faithful.