Manchester City earned a narrow 1-0 victory over Wigan on Monday night. Wigan threatened to cause an upset, but City were the more dangerous side and won through a first half Edin Dzeko header.
City did not reach top gear, but Roberto Mancini will be pleased to have ended a poor run of four losses in eight games. Wigan acquitted themselves well throughout, however, and Roberto Martinez will be disappointed his charges could not salvage a draw.
The Latics started quickly and threatened the City’s goal immediately. A dangerous cross by Albert Crusat caused confusion in the City box and Wigan believed they should have been given a penalty when Gareth Barry clumsily bundled over Jordi Gomez. The referee rightly waved away the protests and the resulting shot was blocked before going out for a corner.
City made a stuttering start, but Savic had a half chance in the ninth minute when he headed over a Samir Nasri cross from a difficult angle. Wigan continued their promising start, however, when Victor Moses made a great run after Hugo Rodallega did well to win a header. The winger wasted the opportunity by shooting well over from the edge of the box, however.
The game’s only goal came in the 22nd minute through Edin Dzeko. Silva drifted an inviting cross into the box and Dzeko rose above his markers to head into the right hand corner. It was a brilliant finish from a striker who enjoyed a frustrating night in front goal.
The match fell into a lull for the proceeding 20 minutes. James McArthur had Wigan’s only opportunity in that period, but his long distance effort was easily saved by Joe Hart. Meanwhile, Gareth Barry had a chance add to City’s lead in the 20th minute when Silva passed to him in the Wigan box. The Englishman shot well over, however. Minute laters, Nasri stole the ball from MacArthur in the Wigan box. He passed to Silva, but the Spaniard’s shot was blocked.
City were looking most likely to score and Aguero almost doubled City just before half-time. The Citizens broke quickly and Silva played in Aguero. The Argentine shot well to the keeper’s right but Al Habsi made a decent save.
The second half began with a half chance for Wigan. James McArthur was given space just outside the City box but his long-distance effort drifted wide and did not cause Hart any problems.
Al Habsi kept Wigan in the game in the 55th minute with an impressive double save. Samir Nasri found Dzeko with a clever cross to the edge of the box. The Bosnian shot towards the top right hand corner but his effort was saved brilliantly by Al Habsi. Nasri collected the ball and passed to Silva, who shot immediately, but Al Habsi saved again to keep City at bay.
Moments later Aguero made a mazy run, which left three Wigan defenders on the ground. Just as he was about to finish off an incredible run, however, Dzeko took the ball and scuffed his shot into the grateful gloves of Al Habsi.
Wigan endured another scary moment in the 62nd minute. Gael Clichy made a probing run down the left flank. The full back’s cross deflected off two Wigan defenders and almost ended up in the Wigan goal.
Wigan were still within striking distance of City and almost equalised in the 70th minute. A poor pass from Barry allowed Rodallega to steal the ball from James Milner. The striker drifted forward before playing in Franco Di Santo. The Italian shot quickly but his effort was turned away by Joe Hart’s outstretched leg.
James McCarthy then threatened the City goal again in the 75th minute. The effort lacked power but Hart was forced to push the ball around the post for a corner.
Al Habsi continued his impressive performance in the 81st minute. Aguero held the ball up before passing to Dzeko. The Bosnian’s effort from outside the box was palmed over the bar by the Wigan keeper.
Aguero had a gilt-edged opportunity to finish the match as a contest in the 84th minute. Milner passed to the Argentine, who was unmarked at the edge of the Wigan box. Aguero failed to take advantage and shot wide, however.
The match’s last major action came when Maynor Figueroa took a big risk two minutes from time. The defender was left alone with Aguero at the halfway line, but misjudged a header. Figueroa decided to handle the ball to stop Aguero getting behind him and having a clear run on goal. The referee decided the foul was committed too far from the Wigan goal to be a sending off offence and gave Figueroa a yellow card.
The victory leaves Manchester City three points ahead of city rivals United at the top of the Premier League. Wigan remain rooted to the bottom of the table.