Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 28 September, 2008, 16:00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne (c), Garrido, Kompany (Gelson 90), Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Elano (Sturridge 85), Robinho, Jo (Evans 73)
Unused: Schmeichel, Ball, Ben-Haim, Hamann
Goals: Kompany (22)
Booked: Garrido, Robinho, Kompany, Richards
City Man of the Match: Richard Dunne
City’s fans left the game discussing two key events after today’s game at the JJB – how the deciding goal wasn’t a penalty and how much more Richard Dunne needed to do to get a penalty in the other box. Needless to say, the referee took plenty of stick and replays showed why.
The first shot of the day came from Wigan’s Amr Zaki, which flew over Joe Hart’s crossbar from range. It should have been the warning City needed, but they were undone a few minutes later by a stunning Antonio Valencia strike.
Vincent Kompany was attempting to clear the ball from the right back position while his shirt was being pulled off his back, but the referee saw fit to penalise the Belgian. The resulting free-kick was only half cleared to Valencia, who hit a thunderbolt past Joe Hart and into the top corner.
City almost hit back immediately, with some neat interplay which left Robinho to swivel and shoot just outside the six-yard box, but, somehow, the Brazilian poked the ball wide.
Five minutes later, City equalised, after Elano played a beauty of a ball into the area from a free kick on the right wing and Vincent Kompany stepped in to score his first of his City career.
But Wigan re-took the lead 11 minutes later as Palacios dived theatrically to win his side a penalty, when there was minimal, at best, contact with Javier Garrido. With the referee conned and a penalty given, Garrido, Kompany and Robinho earned themselves yellow cards arguing the point.
Amr Zaki sent Hart the wrong way to give the home side the advantage, leaving the City fans furious with referee Steve Bennett.
City tried to hit back immediately, once again, with Stephen Ireland just inches away from connecting with a Zabaleta cross and Shaun Wright-Phillips forcing Wigan keeper Kirkland to tip the ball over the bar from his cross-cum-shot.
Richard Dunne then had what seemed to be a clear penalty turned down, after he was clipped by Emile Heskey, with the referee penalising the City skipper for handball – the offence committed as the number 22 fell to the ground.
Heskey then found a way into City’s box, and produced a good save from Joe Hart, who blocked the England forward’s shot with his legs.
Titus Bramble headed wide a few minutes after the restart and Jo was unable to get a shot in after Wright-Phillips had broken into the box.
A few minutes later, former City-man Michael Brown brought a halt to a Wright-Phillips winding run on the edge of the area, but the resulting free kick was blasted over by Jo, after it had been rolled to him by Elano.
Wright-Phillips then produced an excellent save from Kirkland at his near post, after several City players were unable to get a shot away in the area.
The Wigan keeper then appeared to be lucky not to concede a penalty, as he seemed to collide with City substitute Ched Evans, not long after the youngster had come on. But Steve Bennett waved away any City shouts.
The referee then earned himself more disdain from the City faithful as what looked to be a clear foul on Micah Richards just outside the area on the right flank was given as a Wigan free kick.
City tried to break through Wigan’s defence, but the closest they came was a Kompany shot from outside the area, which landed straight in Kirkland’s hands. The home side could have made it worse for City, were it not for Joe Hart’s superb save from Amr Zaki on one of Wigan’s isolated second half chances.
It was a tough defeat for City to take, especially as they had created enough chances to have levelled and it appeared a dodgy penalty was what had handed Wigan the points.