Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester City 1: match report
Manchester City missed the chance to move into the Premier League top four when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic. Martin Petrov's equaliser one minute into the second half earned City a point but their hopes of pushing for a win were hampered by the dismissal of Argentine right-back Pablo Zabaleta, who was controversially dismissed by Alan Wiley. Wiley's fitness was criticised by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after a recent game against Sunderland but although Zabaleta's first booking was marginal, there were no doubts about the second. That forced City into a rearguard action and they battled well enough to emerge with a point that keeps them in fifth place in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand. Kolo Toure and Craig Bellamy were both sidelined with injuries so Petrov and Micah Richards came in as City searched for their first away win over Wigan in the top-flight. City were pushed back early on, with French midfielder N'Zogbia bursting clear of Nigel de Jong and driving his shot narrowly wide. City finally responded when Carlos Tevez picked out Emmanuel Adebayor and the Togo striker slipped past Titus Bramble before forcing a smart stop from Chris Kirkland. Hughes's side were struggling to find their rhythm and Wigan threatened again when Hugo Rodallega's ferocious effort was palmed away by Shay Given. N'Zogbia had a goal disallowed when Wiley ruled he fouled Gareth Barry but Wigan didn't have to wait long to go ahead. In first half stoppage time, Rodallega's cross-shot was pushed out by Given to N'Zogbia and he slid in ahead of Wayne Bridge to open the scoring. That could have been a major dent to City's morale but they regrouped at half-time and were level within 65 seconds of the re-start. Tevez picked out Petrov on the edge of the Wigan penalty area and the Bulgarian let the ball roll to his favoured left foot before driving a superb strike past Kirkland. It took a fine tackle from Bramble to deny Adebayor as he bore down on goal moments later. Kirkland was called into action to push away Barry's header from a deep Petrov cross as City went for the winner. But City's hopes of going on to claim all three points suffered a blow in the 65th minute when Zabaleta was dismissed by Wiley for his rash lunge on Jason Scotland. Zabaleta's second foul clearly deserved a booking but there had been some debate about Wiley's decision to issue the Argentina defender with his first yellow card for a challenge on Maynor Figueroa. Wigan's slick passing style was beginning to wear City out and midfielder Mohamed Diame lashed just over as the hosts pushed on. The sight of Adebayor limping off with an injury could hardly have raised Hughes's spirits and he breathed a sigh of relief when Hendry Thomas's effort was ruled out for offside. City could have had a penalty in the closing stages when Wright-Phillips went down under Figueroa's challenge but Wiley turned down their appeals.
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