CARLOS Tevez struck a stunning late winner as Manchester City snatched victory in their FA Cup final dress rehearsal with relegation-threatened Wigan.
Scorer: Tevez 82
Referee: A Taylor
The visitors had looked the better side for large periods of a subdued Barclays Premier League encounter at the Etihad Stadium but failed to take a number of chances. Tevez made them pay eight minutes from time as he weaved his way into the area and fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. It was his eighth goal in nine games and left Wigan in the bottom three and to rue the near misses from Franco di Santo, Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney which threatened an unexpected win.
Wigan may be fortunate to catch City, who cut Manchester United’s lead at the top to 13 points, in such underwhelming form when they meet again at Wembley next month.
The first-half was rather low key as both sides returned to league action after their emotionally and physically-draining semi-final victories last weekend. City manager Roberto Mancini made five changes, but they were all defensive and the attacking big guns who retained their places – Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Tevez – were all below par. Joe Hart returned after being left out in favour of Costel Pantilimon at Wembley and produced the best moment of the first half with a fine save from Di Santo.
Di Santo was Wigan’s one outfield change, taking over from semi-final star Callum McManaman, while the visitors also made a goalkeeping alteration with Joel Robles replacing Ali Al Habsi.
City survived a couple of scares in the second-half as first Maloney wrong-footed Richards and beat Hart with a shot from a tight angle only for Joleon Lescott to clear off the line. Wigan appeared to go close again when Paul Scharner headed against the bar from a free-kick but the flag had been raised for offside. After that near miss, heartbreak followed for Wigan as Tevez struck a typically sublime winner.
The Argentine turned away from two defenders on the edge of the area and jinked past a third before curling a shot into the top corner. Wigan’s spirit was broken and one of their valuable games in hand had slipped away.
Manchester City: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Kompany, Kolarov, Barry, Javi Garcia, Toure, Tevez, Nasri, Aguero. Subs: Pantilimon, Toure, Clichy, Milner, Sinclair, Rodwell, Dzeko.
Wigan Athletic: Robles, Alcaraz, Scharner, Figueroa, Boyce, Gomez, McCarthy, Beausejour, Kone, Di Santo, Maloney. Subs: Al Habsi, Caldwell, Henriquez, McManaman, McArthur, Espinoza, Stam.