Tevez 71, 74, 83 mins
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 29 March 2010 22:24
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
You wonder just where City might be this season without him. His 23rd, 24th and 25th goals of a stunning campaign were not his most spectacular, but Carlos Tevez's hat-trick was worth its weight in gold.
Wigan were holding their own, even reduced to ten men for Gary Caldwell's reckless challenge on the Argentine international, when terrier Tevez wrecked their hopes of a draw with a devastating three-goal burst in 12 minutes.
It is almost as if the dynamic little striker has decided to haul City into the Champions League single-handed. Certainly, he wiped the smiles off Tottenham faces as Wigan threatened to restrict the Blues to a point and severely damage their chances.
There is an exuberance about his play that should galvanise his team-mates, yet it took 71 minutes here to make the breakthrough
Once he had put City ahead though, Wigan were doomed and Tevez - who waved a shinguard with his daughter's name on to mark his first two goals - celebrated his third after 83 minutes happily engulfed in a sea of fans.
He took a booking for that, but the mighty ovation Tevez received as he left the pitch a few minutes later was ample consolation for a hero who has etched himself into City folklore in a few heady months.
So Blues fans left for home wearing smiles instead of the frowns, and worse, that had accompanied a performance less than convincing before Tevez radically changed its course.
Roberto Martinez's Wigan arrived nursing an unenviable recent record, having won only two of their last 11 League games and scored just six goals in the process. It seemed a real opportunity to flush the Everton defeat out of the system.
Mancini's natural inclination to re-unite Tevez with the freshly available Emmanuel Adebayor, and start with Adam Johnson, left no place in the line-up for popular Craig Bellamy.
But there was enough attacking intent about City to promise a much-needed home win, and it was only a superb save from Wigan keeper Vladimir Stojkovic that denied the Blues on 12 minutes.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, a lively starter, danced around a tackle to line up Tevez just yards out but when the Argentine pulled the trigger, Stojkovic pulled off a great one-handed stop.
Wigan, whose own mood was positive after their welcome last-gasp victory over Burnley, had no intention of playing second fiddle and Marcelo Moreno flashed a shot past Shay Given's post.
Tevez almost played SWP in with 25 minutes gone, following a towering header out by Vincent Kompany, but the ball skidded a mite ahead on a sleek surface as the winger lost his defender.
City's leading scorer, doing his fair share of running and creating, then cut inside a couple of defenders and was only inches from bending a lively shot inside Stojkovic's far post.
Inevitably, Bellamy received a heartfelt cheer as he warmed up with half-time approaching and little sign of City taking a firm grip. There was an even more vociferous Blues reception when the Welshman trotted on for the start of the second half.
But it was Wigan who suddenly found a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Hugo Rodallega escaped Pablo Zabaleta then Kolo Toure before inexplicably firing wide of a gaping goal.
Caldwell's dismissal after 55 minutes for that lunge on Tevez - a straight red, ruled referee Attwell - looked to have surely swung the odds heavily in City's favour
Yet Wigan responded with a couple of furious attacks, one of which saw Moreno unleash a powerful effort that mercifully swerved away from Given's far post with the keeper stretched.
City laboured to turn their numerical advantage into a victory - until Wigan were finally caught out by Patrick Vieira's lobbed ball as Stojkovic and Paul Scharner both dithered.
The irrepressible Tevez nipped in to finish that one after 71 minutes, then was on hand three minutes later to take advantage of Kompany's flick from Javier Garrido's cross following a short corner.
Now he had the taste, and the goal for his second hat-trick of the season, hit from the right to leave the keeper helpless, was almost inevitable. City fans will hope fourth place is as well.