Barclay’s Premier League
Saturday 5 March 2011, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta, Vieira, Barry, Y Touré, Silva (de Jong 84), Balotelli (Kolarov 69), Tevez (c) (Dzeko 86)
Unused: Taylor, Boyata, Boateng, Jo
Goals: Silva (38)
Booked: Richards, Barry, Kompany
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the Match: David Silva
After a strong performance in the FA Cup in midweek, the home side will have been looking for a good start in this tie to get them back on track. But it was the visitors who started the brighter, putting City under some early pressure with a corner headed over by Rodellega.
City responded, though, and Balotelli shot from the edge of the box in a similar position from which he scored against Fulham. This time, though, it was straight at the goalkeeper and should have been a simple save – Al Habsi, however, just about managed to get the ball behind after spilling it. The goalkeeper set the tone for the match, though, skewing a simple clearance out of play and down the tunnel.
City, though, stepped up their play and should have taken the lead as the first half progressed. Silva the architect, he twice weaved his way to the by-line to get in a low cross, but twice City couldn’t find the finish. First, Gareth Barry couldn’t get a shot in as he had to stretch to control and then Yaya Touré couldn’t find room to hit it before he was crowded out.
Rodellega had a shot blocked from inside the City box, before a neat one-two between Silva and Tevez set the Spaniard through, but his cut back this time fell to a Wigan shirt, as City couldn’t make their pressure count.
Richard was then perhaps lucky to have stayed on the pitch for a late tackle on Caldwell, but the referee elected just to show a yellow card for the incident and the City fans could breathe a sigh of relief. It nearly got better too, but Tevez’s break into the area was slid just wide of Al Habsi’s post, before Silva skewed a shot wide of the other post.
With just over the half hour gone, it was Wigan’s turn to think they should have been ahead. A cut back could only be cleared to McCarthy in the box and the Wigan man smashed his shot wide, with Joe Hart left as an observer. It was a big let off for the home side.
But then, City did get themselves in front with a big helping hand from Al Habsi. Silva weaved his way into the box and fired a shot at goal, straight at the goalkeeper. But the Wigan shot-stopper must have taken his eye off the ball and it went straight through him, between his legs and into the net.
Despite being in front at the break, though, City struggled to get going in the second half. It took Yaya Touré to head away from a corner, before Alcaraz hit the post from a Watson flag kick. Zabaleta, though, was able to ease the pressure with a nice turn away from Moses.
Hart was then called into action as a corner was only partially cleared and fell to the feet of McCarthy at the edge of the box. He volleyed it straight back at goal and the England international threw himself at it to push the ball behind for a corner.
With 25 minutes to play, City appealed for a penalty for a handball in the area, but it was an appeal more from the fans than the players and the referee turned it down. A promising City move was cut short by a poor ball from Kolarov aimed at Tevez’s run into the box, after some neat one-touch play from Silva, Touré and Barry.
As the game ticked towards its conclusion, Tevez was crowded out by the corner flag and N’Zogbia fired wide when he could have done better. Kompany needed to be alert to remove the danger as the game entered stoppage time, before Rodellega could have pulled the visitors level, but he underhit a shot that Hart was able to save.
With seconds to play, though, it was Sammon who missed Wigan’s most guilt-edged chance. He found himself through on goal, bearing down on Joe Hart and, with just the goalkeeper to beat, he slid the ball wide of the post. It wasn’t City’s best performance of the season, but it’s the results that matter and the home side took all three points.