- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 17 April 2013 21:51
- Posted by @baileymcfc
As Cup final dress rehearsals go this was pretty unrepresentative stuff.
City, resigned to a best possible finish of second in the Barclays Premier League, decided to rest some of their weekend Wembley heroes whilst Wigan were gripped with the kind of anxiety and tension that a relegation battle will always pump into the system.
The result of all that was a disjoined contest, that at times ebbed and flowed pleasingly but at others was not the most edifying of spectacles. There were few chances and plenty of frustration.
But City failing to score at home is as rare as Halley’s Comet and in the end the points were decided by a wonderful piece of Argentine skill from Carlos Tevez.
The Blues striker skipped his way past two lunging defenders before striking sweetly into the top corner. There were only six minutes remaining.
To be honest it was a shot not in keeping with the rest of the game which produced little in the way of silky attacking skills and chances but did highlight defensive skills at both ends of the pitch and allowed the bravery and athleticism of the two goalkeepers to shine through.
Roberto Mancini hinted that he might make one of two changes as he integrated players returning from injury and at the same time gave some rest to tired minds and limbs.
England defender Micah Richards returned for a first outing in the senior side since October and there were starts too for Joe Hart, Alex Kolarov, Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia – none of whom were in the starting eleven for the 2-1 semi-final win over Chelsea.
Best chance of a deadly dull opening half fell to Wigan’s Franco Di Santo but Hart was bold and decisive taking the ball off his toe when it looked like the Latics would take the lead.
Having seen City switch to three at the back at the start of the second half, a tactical move that involved shifting Javi Garcia to the heart of the defence and bringing on Edin Dzeko in place of Sergio Aguero, Wigan had the first chance.
It was a good one, too, as Shaun Maloney cut inside and fired in a shot that would have opened the scoring had an alert Joleon Lescott not cleared it off the line.
The experiment with the formation was soon abandoned and City finally gained a semblance of control which the midfield had found hard to achieve all night.
The home side’s best chance of the game came in the 75th minute when Dzeko beat the offside trap but was thwarted by the well positioned Joel Robles.
It was set up for a grandstand finish and Tevez thankfully provided it with his peach of a shot.