10-man City overcome Latics
Dunne sees red and Zaki misses a sitter as City take the points
By Rob Carragher. Last Updated: 17/01/09 6:09pm
Zabaleta: celebrates the only goal of the game
Manchester City picked up a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wigan thanks to Pablo Zabaleta's fine strike just after the break.
City had produced some slick football in the first period and looked to be playing their North West neighbours off the park, though Robinho could not convert two good chances to take the lead.
Wigan came out for the second half looking far brighter, but despite this, City were soon in the lead courtesy of a rare Zabaleta 20-yard strike after good work from Daniel Sturridge.
City will have been hoping to build on the goal, yet within a minute they were down to 10 men after Richard Dunne kicked out at Amr Zaki on the floor after an aerial challenge.
Wigan took the initiative and dominated the second half following the dismissal, but their golden opportunity to take a point went begging when Zaki spurned an open goal late on.
City had started the game with the most intent, but it was Wigan who almost took the lead in the fifth minute with Titus Bramble heading narrowly over the bar following a corner from Ryan Taylor.
Robinho should have put City ahead seven minutes later. He homed in on goal after Elano split the offside trap with a superb ball over the top.
However with only goalkeeper Chris Kirkland to beat, Robinho scuffed a shot off his shins wide of the post.
Elano again picked out Robinho in the 23rd minute and he chipped the ball over Kirkland - only for Bramble to make a timely clearance.
Then a minute later Sturridge headed off-target at the back post after a cross from Shaun Wright-Phillips.
City continued to dictate the pace and Robinho slipped the ball to Sturridge in the 30th minute - but his effort went wide of the post.
Wigan again found themselves on the back foot a minute later when Bramble blocked a shot from Wright-Phillips.
They hit back though in the 33rd minute when Wilson Palacios, who could be on the brink of a move to Tottenham, got forward. However, his effort was taken cleanly by goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Palacios then tried to release Emile Heskey, who had made a quiet start. However the England striker got a poor first touch and the move broke down.
The Honduran was beginning to see a lot of the ball and he rattled in a 20-yard shot in the 39th minute that finished narrowly wide of the post.
City took the lead in the 51st minute when Zabaleta, playing in midfield for a change, showed good skill to rattle home a shot from 20 yards. He took full advantage after Paul Scharner had only half-cleared a cross from Sturridge.
A minute later Dunne was sent off by referee Lee Mason. The club captain was dismissed after TV replays showed him kicking out at Zaki following an aerial collision between the pair.
It was Dunne's second red card of the season after he was sent off against Tottenham.
A man up, Wigan stepped up the pace and Scharner saw his goalbound header cleared to safety by Elano in the 64th minute.
Valencia then delivered a cross to the back post and Hart diverted the ball for a corner as Heskey waited to pounce on any mistake.
Wigan continued to sweep forward in search of an equaliser and this was an anxious time for the home side.
Indeed, Zaki should really have pulled them level in the 85th minute, but somehow he managed to head over after Lee Cattermole's header came back off the bar.
Wigan then claimed a penalty when Cattermole was upended by Zabaleta but the referee would have none of it and City held out for a vital victory.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||3|
|7||Shots off Target||11|
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Bromwich Albion||6||8|
|13||West Ham United||6||7|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||6||4|