Despite having to field a weakened line up and missing three centre backs Wigan matched the unbeaten Premier League champions until maverick City striker Mario Balotelli broke the deadlock on 69 minutes.
Until that point the erratic Italian was having a quiet night when he struck after Gareth Barry’s shot was blocked by Ali Al Habsi and, although the Wigan keeper stopped Balotelli’s first effort, he could do nothing with his second strike.
The second goal soon followed when James Milner’s quality strike from eighteen yards made sure of a victory that keeps City hot on the heels of Manchester United. Latics remain in 15th place despite the defeat, and will be looking to get back to winning ways at St James’ Park next Monday.
Wigan had the better of the opening exchanges, Arouna Kone shot straight at Joe Hart after an incisive pass from Franco Fi Santo, Jean Beausejour’s should have done better when his shot was blocked by Vincent Kompany and a Kone header just missed the target after great work by Ronnie Stam.
City had a couple of opportunities themselves when Kun Aguero hit the side netting after a darting run and Yaya Toure poked a shot at Al Habsi after nutmegging James McCarthy.
In the second half Balotelli headed into side netting when unmarked at the back post and Kone headed wide of the post from a central position.
Wigan continued to match their illustrious opponents and Beausejour’s whipped cross beat the City defenders but also evaded Kone and Jordi Gomez’s header only found the side netting.
Somewhat against the run of play City took the lead through Balotelli after some sloppy Wigan defending and then substitute James Milner on for the ineffective Javi Garcia consolidated City’s lead.
It was fair to say that the two goals in quick succession shattered Wigan’s stubborn resistance and meant they offered little attacking threat during the final fifteen minutes. Prior to the goals the home team had been defensively solid while producing some fluid attacking football.
Despite their makeshift back line and reshuffled midfield Latics had produced a creditable performance which augurs well for the upcoming fixtures against Newcastle United away and QPR at home. Hopefully the side will also be reinforced by some key players returning from the treatment table.
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