Abject cup final display signals the end of Mancini's reign?
FA Cup Final
Saturday 11 May 2013, 17.15 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Y Toure, Barry (Dzeko 90), Silva, Nasri (Milner 55), Tevez (Rodwell 69), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Garcia
Booked: Zabaleta, Nastasic, Barry
Sent Off: Zabaleta
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
City walked out at Wembley for the fifth time under Roberto Mancini for their second FA Cup final in three seasons, but it was the underdogs in Wigan who got off to the better start. An early free kick for City was hit into the wall by Tevez and the rebound effort at goal by Toure was comfortably pushed away by Joel. But that was as good as it got for the blues in the opening stages.
Aguero lost possession mid-way in the Wigan half and it gave them the chance to break: McManaman turned Clichy on City’s left and found Kone on the opposite flank. He held it up and returned it to the midfielder, who had ghosted past Nastasic into a pocket of space in the box, but his shot curled wide of the post. Joe Hart was left rooted to the spot.
It was soon all Wigan pressure: Maloney volleyed a cross from the edge of the box right at Nastasic and the fans at the other end of the ground appealed for handball, though it would have been a very harsh penalty, having rolled off the defender’s knee first. It was the same player again who, having cut in from the left, took on a shot towards Hart’s bottom left corner, but it was just wide.
Mid-way through the half, City created their best chance of the game. Nasri cut inside from the left flank and slipped a ball in behind the full-back for Silva to chase. He centred it, looking for anybody arriving in the middle, and it fell nicely for Tevez. He tried to place the ball back across the goalkeeper, but Joel managed to get his toe to the ball while diving the other way, and divert it over the bar.
Wigan responded. Following a Toure blocked shot, the underdogs broke away. Kone managed to slip the ball through for McManaman to chase and he left Nastasic and Kompany for dead, to race through on Hart. The speed of the break took him wide, but Hart committed himself and the midfielder was able to take it around him. Zabaleta recovered to slow him down and allow Hart time to get back into position, but another McManaman turn left the goalkeeper stranded. When the midfielder shot, though, Zabaleta was in the right place to block. It was a let off.
The City fans would have been expecting a completely different City to emerge from the tunnel at half time. To an extent that was true, as they started the half on the front foot, but they were still very much below par. Tevez’s low cross to the near post was met on the slide by Aguero, but Boyce got the last touch to knock it behind for a corner. A Silva cross then led to a Wigan breakaway, that Zabaleta stopped cynically and he saw yellow.
But soon, Wigan were putting the blues under pressure again. It remained goalless thanks to a brilliant challenge from Kompany, coming across from the right side of the box to slide to block from McManaman, after he had stepped around Clichy and Silva. A free kick from the right wing was then crossed towards the back-post by Maloney and, with Hart standing and watching, it dropped onto the top of the bar and away.
A loose ball from Barry was then more costly than simply allowing Wigan a chance to break. Trying to find Kompany, his ball was cut out and McManaman was through on goal. Kompany and Nastasic couldn’t get back to cover and Zabaleta was forced to commit himself to the challenge. He missed the ball and took all of the man, resulting in his second yellow card.
As the board went up for stoppage time, Clichy inadvertently knocked the ball behind for a corner following a challenge with McManaman. From that kick, Watson was left totally unmarked on the corner of the six-yard box and he connected to nod it straight past Joe Hart. With only two minutes of the game to play, it was enough to win the game for Wigan.
In truth, City never turned up and Wigan fully deserved to lift the cup.