English Premier League
Monday 16 January 2012, 20.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry, Nasri (de Jong 74), Silva (Onuoha 81), Dzeko, Aguero (A Johnson 90)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Rekik, Hargreaves
Goals: Dzeko (22)
Booked: Zabaleta, de Jong, Milner
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero
The early pressure of the game was on the Wigan goal, as Dzeko looked to get free inside the box in the opening ten seconds, but the defence were able to clear, before Nasri and Zabaleta tried to combine to release Silva on the right. The hosts, though, hit back immediately, as Lescott missed the ball at the near post and Clichy flicked it away. Wigan wanted a penalty for a foul by Barry, but the referee turned away the shouts, before Milner deflected a shot from the edge of the box behind.
Dzeko and Savic both had headers on goal just over the bar, as City looked for the early goal, before Rodallega stole the ball from Lescott as the defender tried to carry the ball away and Moses fired over from the edge of the box. It was a furious start to the match, but it soon calmed down, with both sides not looking to give away too much ground.
On 21 minutes, Dzeko earned City a free kick on the left flank as Alcaraz brought him down. Silva took the resulting kick and found the big centre-forward unmarked in the box. After missing an earlier chance, he wasn’t going to miss this one and he planted his header into the corner of the net. It was his first City goal since the start of November.
McArthur looked to get the home side level just before the half hour mark, as Zabaleta nicked the ball away from a Wigan attack and the midfielder took an opportunistic strike from the edge of the box that needed both hands from Hart to stop. Dzeko then wanted a penalty at the other end, but it would have been harsh if the referee had pointed to the spot, before Barry skied a good chance.
Nasri stole the ball inside the Wigan area and pulled it back for Silva to shoot, but he couldn’t find the room to get the ball through and it was just about cleared by the defence. Moses had the chance to cross the ball when the home side had men in the box, but Barry got across well to make the tackle, before winning the ball back and completing the clearance. A Wigan free kick then needed Savic, Lescott and Barry to combine to clear.
A City breakaway saw Silva and Aguero have a two-on-two in the Wigan half and the Spaniard did enough to find the Argentine on the edge of the box. He found room for the shot and forced Al Habsi into a good save, before Savic was needed to stop the hosts getting clean through on Hart’s goal down the right flank.
Wigan started the second half brightly and were asking the referee for a penalty almost immediately, as the ball appeared to strike Zabaleta’s arm in the box. It was fired at him and his arm was by his side, so there were no surprises it wasn’t given, though the appeals were more from the fans than the players. McArthur had an effort from the edge of the box, but he didn’t get the curl he wanted and it bounced harmlessly behind.
Zabaleta stole the ball back on the edge of the Wigan box and set Nasri through to cross low to the back post. Dzeko picked the ball up and looked as if he couldn’t sort his feet out, before he found a cracking shot for the top corner. Al Habsi was able to push it away, only as far as Nasri and his pull back to Silva was well stopped. Aguero should then have doubled City’s lead as he worked his way into the six yard box, but he couldn’t find the shot and Dzeko could only find the hands of the goalkeeper.
A double deflection on a Clichy cross from Alcaraz and McCarthy almost put the ball in at the back post and on a plate for Dzeko, but Caldwell just got in the striker’s way to concede the corner. From that flag kick, the hosts had the chance to break, but a poor ball let them down and City won back possession.
With 20 minutes to play, Joe Hart pulled off a great save to spare Milner’s blushes after he’d given the ball away in midfield. It was knocked through for a one-on-one and the City stopper got his foot to the shot from McCarthy and Clichy was able to hook the rebound away to safety. Aguero found himself onside, but the ball was behind him and he couldn’t readjust. He played it to Dzeko, who took the shot, but the deflection made it easier for Al Habsi to tip it over the bar.
A good touch from Dzeko allowed him to played a great ball over to Zabaleta on the opposite side of the pitch. His first time ball to Milner was good, but Milner’s was better to send Aguero through, but the Argentine couldn’t find the target and dragged his shot well wide. It was another chance gone begging for the visitors.
A blatant handball from Figueroa to deny Aguero a free run on goal from the halfway line had the City fans calling for a late red card, but the referee decided it was only worth a yellow, before Hart needed to dive on the ball to stop the confusion in the City box as a high ball in was only half cleared. City were holding on, but they managed to see out a nervy victory.