The result lifted City up to 5th position in the table and leaves them two points behind Tottenham who occupy the all important 4th spot. The result will have come as a blow to the Latics who lie in 16th place, only four points above the drop zone.
The game had no ebb and flow to it in the first-half and as a consequence both sides were pretty average in their performances. Emmanuel Adebayor returned for the home team along with a trio of changes from their last game at home to Everton. Out went Gareth Barry, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards, and in came Shaun Wright-Phillips, Patrick Vieira and Javier Garrido. Perhaps the number of changes was shown in the first 10 minutes where Wigan, if anything, looked the brighter team. Whilst City lacked any tempo or flow to their game, Roberto Martinez’s side started well without creating any chances.
However, City had the first real chance of the game when Adebayor’s shot was blocked by Titus Bramble which was soon followed up by a stinging Tevez volley which brought a fine save out of Wigan’s stand-in goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Aside from the two chances, Wigan’s good start to the match did not really continue and they were mainly restricted to long range shots even though they were allowed to a lot of time on the ball. In the main the first-half produced little quality and it showed when the home fans booed the side of as the half-time whistle blew.
Clearly lacking in energy and playing without any speed to their game, Roberto Mancini must have fired his team up during the interval as they came out in the second-half with much more purpose. From the off, Bellamy replaced Wright-Phillips and it was he who set up Adebayor who, after putting the ball in the back of the net from a rebounded shot, found that he was in an offside position. This immediately galvanised the crowd but it was Wigan who should have taken the lead afterwards. A free-kick that was poorly defended by City created a golden opportunity for Hugo Rodallega who sent his shot wide when he was so well placed to finish it off. Now that the game had real life to it, the first instance of drama was about to unfold.
Wigan’s Gary Caldwell was harshly sent off as it was decided that his tackle on Tevez was two-footed but it seemed that Caldwell deserved only a yellow. This inevitably lifted City and, as the game opened up, their defiance was brought to an end. In a bizarre bit of decision making by Stojkovic, he did not come out to claim a chipped ball that had been sent in by Vieira and this meant that Tevez, to his delight, just tapped the ball in. The goalkeeper claimed that Adebayor had gone in too high but that was brushed away by the officials.
The second of Tevez’s goals, arriving in the 74th minute to effectively kill the game off, came when he slid in at the far post to finish a testing Garrido cross, which went right across the six-yard area. The Argentine put the icing on the cake with his fine individual performance by getting a hat-trick through getting past two Wigan players with quick feet and left the goalkeeper stranded by bending a shot from just inside the box on the diagonal to seal the win for City. They will feel that they really had to earn the win as Wigan, who can be so unpredictable, played their part too.
Naturally Wigan boss Martinez was upset with the red card. He said: “That decision was a key moment. It really cost us and the game went away from us. To give a red for that, as a referee you need to be very sure. You can’t guess with a decision like that and it is a turning point.” Referring to his own team’s performance, he added: “I felt we were growing into the game, we had a couple of opportunities and felt that the last half an hour was going to be crucial.”
Mancini realised that City had been tested when he said that “Wigan played good football and it was especially difficult in the first half.” Regarding Tevez’s hat-trick and the race for fourth, the City manager seemed optimistic. He said: “Carlos is a fantastic striker and I hope he continues like this in the run-in. If we fight like we did in the second half, we will probably finish fourth.”
Click below to the see the action, which includes all of Tevez’s goals
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