League Cup Third Round
Tuesday 25 September 2013, 19.45 KO
City: Pantilimon, Richards (c), Lescott, Boyata, Clichy, Milner, Garcia, Fernandinho (Toure 46), Lopes (Navas 71), Dzeko (Negredo 79), Jovetic
Unused: Wright, Kolarov, Nastasic, Nasri
Goals: Dzeko (33), Jovetic (60, 83), Toure (76), Navas (86)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the Match: James Milner
City’s first involvement in the League Cup saw a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final. Now a division between the two sides, the hosts went in as favourites and it would have to be a pretty severe beating for it to count as any sort of ‘revenge’. Wigan’s fans could have lost tonight by ten and still not had a sense of remorse over dominating the last cup meeting.
As it happens, it was half that – as City dominated the match from start to finish. The atmosphere was (understandably) some way behind that of the previous Sunday though, despite ten changes to the side, City’s performance was not.
It started after just four minutes, when the returning Richards connected to a Lopes corner, but it was well saved by the visiting goalkeeper. Less than a minute later, the combination was the same – though, this time, Nicholls tipped the ball away acrobatically.
As much as the Blues were in control of the game, it seemed flag kicks were creating their best opportunities, as on the quarter hour mark, Boyata got into a promising position from a corner. However, the Belgian couldn’t keep the effort down. It was Dzeko’s turn to miss with a header shortly after – this one from open play – as Milner found him on the penalty spot.
The hosts were getting closer. On the half hour, Lopes almost opened the scoring as he cracked a shot against the underside of the crossbar. Jovetic had slipped in the build-up, but the ball ran kindly for the youngster to shoot and he was inches away from finding the net for the second time in his second appearance.
Finally, though, the pressure told. Fernandinho picked out a sublime chipped pass over the top for Dzeko to run on to and the Bosnian made no mistake in giving the hosts the lead, sliding the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
As the second half got underway, City were piling on the pressure. A Toure header dropped just wide from a corner, following a spell of pinball in the Wigan box which saw a deflected Milner effort hit the post. Lopes twice came close, too – diverting a cross wide and having a volley blocked.
After an hour, City doubled their lead and it was a home debut goal for Jovetic. It was a scrappy goal following some great play by Richards to get the ball across, but the Montenegrin did enough to force it over the line. His initial shot was saved by Nicholls, but the rebound hit the striker and found the net.
With 15 minutes to play, Toure’s work on the training ground had once again paid off as he scored his third free kick of the season, from almost exactly the same position. As if it wasn’t already, the goal made the game safe and City would be in the hat for the next round.
And it showed – as Wigan waved the white flag. First, it was Jovetic to take advantage again, following a powerful run from Milner. His cross deflected to the striker and he forced it under the goalkeeper at his near post.
Then, just three minutes later, Navas grabbed his first goal for the club. It was one substitute to another, as Negredo played his countryman into the box, where the winger belted the ball into the net at the near post.
It was all too comfortable in the end.