Carlos Tevez struck a stunning late winner as Manchester City snatched a 1-0 victory in their FA Cup final dress rehearsal with relegation-threatened Wigan.
The visitors had looked the better side for large periods of a subdued Barclays Premier League encounter at the Etihad Stadium but failed to take a number of chances. Tevez made them pay eight minutes from time as he weaved his way into the area and fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
It was his eighth goal in nine games and left Wigan in the bottom three and to rue the near misses from Franco Di Santo, Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney which threatened an unexpected win.
Wigan may be fortunate to catch City, who cut Manchester United's lead at the top to 13 points, in such underwhelming form when they meet again at Wembley next month. The first half was rather low key as both sides returned to league action after their emotionally and physically-draining semi-final victories last weekend.
City right-back Micah Richards, making his first appearance since October in a revamped back four in which only Vincent Kompany survived from Sunday, was welcomed back with a kick in the face from Jean Beausejour. That gave City a free-kick outside the Wigan area which Aleksandar Kolarov flashed wide.
There then followed a flurry of activity as Wigan produced a sparkling move with Kone bursting forward and Maloney backheeling into the path of Di Santo. The Argentinian jinked round two defenders and open his body to shoot but Joe Hart parried low. Di Santo was then felled on the edge of the area on another counter-raid but Maloney shot at Hart.
City survived a couple of scares soon after the restart as first Maloney wrongfooted Richards and beat Hart with a shot from a tight angle only for Joleon Lescott to clear off the line. Callum McManaman entered the fray in the 68th minute for Di Santo and cut inside to create an opening for himself in the box but shot tamely at Hart.
Fellow substitute Edin Dzeko turned nicely inside the box from a Yaya Toure pass but Joel Robles was off his line quickly to block his shot.
Wigan appeared to go close again when Paul Scharner headed against the bar from a free-kick but the flag had been raised for offside. After that near miss, heartbreak followed for Wigan as Tevez struck a typically sublime winner.
The Argentinian turned away from two defenders on the edge of the area and jinked past a third before curling a shot into the top corner. Wigan's spirit was broken, and one of their valuable games in hand had slipped away. Tevez had another opportunity from an injury-time free-kick but shot wide.