Mario Balotelli and James Milner on target as Manchester City beat Wigan 2-0
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 29/11/12 9:50am
Mario Balotelli opened his Premier League account for the season and James Milner lashed home a screamer as Manchester City remained hard on the heels of Manchester United with a 2-0 victory over Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Balotelli, who had earlier headed a glorious chance wide of the target, broke the deadlock in the 69th minute as he seized on a fumble from Ali Al Habsi following Gareth Barry's shot to rifle home at the second attempt.
And substitute Milner, who had only joined the fray just before the hour mark, made sure of the victory three minutes later as he arrowed an unstoppable effort into the top corner of the net from outside the area after Barry's square ball, only for the England midfielder's goalscoring cameo came to an unhappy end soon after as he limped out of the action and straight down the tunnel.
Best of the match:
- Man of the match: Gareth Barry had a hand in both goals and kept Manchester City's midfielder ticking along throughout the contest.
- Goal of the match: James Milner's screamer from outside the box was an unstoppable effort which flew into the top corner to give Ali Al Habsi no chance.
- Miss of the match: Aroune Kone and Mario Balotelli ran each other close with this one, with the Wigan man's header arguably the worst of the two.
- Controversy of the match: Jordi Gomez and Barry both felt they had good shouts for penalties either side of half-time, but Mark Halsey waved both away.
- Talking points: Man City are unbeaten in their opening 14 games, despite not performing to the levels they hit last season, will they defend their crown? Can Wigan add a more clinical end product to their neat passing and approach play?
Aroune Kone had missed a great opportunity to give the home side the lead when the game was still locked at 0-0 and Wigan will feel the final score was harsh as they more than matched the visitors for long periods with Roberto Mancini's men looking short of inspiration and penetration until the breakthrough.
Wigan made two enforced changes as Adrian Lopez and Franco di Santo came in for Shaun Maloney and Ivan Ramis, while Balotelli returned to the City starting line-up for the first time in six matches.
Maicon and Javi Garcia also played as Mancini made three changes with Aleksandar Kolarov, Milner and Edin Dzeko dropping to the bench. Joleon Lescott was again left out of the squad.
There were early chances at both ends, with Kone firing straight at Joe Hart after being released by Di Santo, while Maicon lashed wide of Al Habsi's goal after rampaging from full-back into the Wigan area and being found by David Silva.
There was a moment of concern for City as Maicon went down in some distress after taking a ball in the throat from Di Santo, but the defender was able to continue after treatment and was a continual threat with his forward runs.
City were rarely testing Al Habsi and were grateful to see Vincent Kompany block Jean Beausejour's shot before Kone's near-post header after a superb surge down the right flank from Ronnie Stam went over the bar.
Jordi Gomez felt he should have a had a penalty as he went down under a challenge from behind by Pablo Zabaleta on the edge of the area as half-time approached but Mark Halsey was not interested, with the Wigan man booked soon after for a nasty and late challenge on Barry.
City then had an equally strong claim for a spot-kick waved away early in the second period as Stam was pulling Barry's shirt from his back at the far post as they battled for Yaya Toure's cross, but again referee Halsey gave nothing.
Balotelli and Kone then traded examples of how not to head the ball after being found by Maicon and James McCarthy, respectively, before the Italy international justified his place in the starting XI by breaking the deadlock and then celebrating with substitute Carlos Tevez, with Milner's rocket making the game safe soon after.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||6|
|5||Shots off Target||10|
|43.6||1st Half Poss.||56.4|
|46.5||2nd Half Poss.||53.5|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||9||16|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||9||10|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||9||7|
Wigan v Man City
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was proud of his team despite the 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Boss Roberto Mancini was a "happy" man after Manchester City ground out a 2-0 win at Wigan
Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry admitted the champions had to grind out their victory at Wigan.