Manchester City remain in the hunt for Champions League football next season after a stunning Carlos Tevez hattrick saw off Wigan at Eastlands tonight.
The striker, whose three goals came in just 12 and a half minutes, has now bagged 25 goals in all competitions this season as City capitalised on the dismissal of Wigan’s Gary Caldwell.
Emmanuel Adebayor returned to the City starting eleven after serving a four match ban, while Vladimir Stojkovic replaced Chris Kirkland in goal for the visitors.
The first half was a rather dour affair, with City allowing Wigan’s midfield a lot of time on the ball and struggling to assert themselves on the game.
Carlos Tevez had a couple of chances for the home side with stand-in Wigan keeper Stojkovic making a superb save to deny the Argentine after 12 minutes.
Wigan created chances of their own and Shay Given had to be at his best to deny Paul Scharner, while Marcelo Moreno blazed high and wide after being fed but the lively Hugo Rodallega.
Craig Bellamy replaced the ineffective Shaun Wright-Phillips at half time, and City thought they had gone ahead just minutes after the re-start.
Adam Johnson fed Tevez and his shot was spilled by Stojkovic to the feet of Adebayor who slotted home comfortbaly, only to be flagged offside.
City appealed for a penalty when the ball struck Gary Caldwell’s arm in the area but Stuart Attwell waved play on, and Rodallega should have scored in the immediate aftermath but shot wide from the edge of the area with Given beaten.
Caldwell saw red shortly after for a two footed tackle on Tevez, but replays suggested that the decision may have been a harsh one.
Wigan didn’t sit back however and again should have taken the lead with excellent chances for Moreno and Rodallega.
The breakthrough finally game after 70 minutes when Stojkovic failed to deal with a ball over the top from Vieira and Tevez was on hand to finish.
The same player doubled City’s lead minutes later when he turned home Javier Garrido’s low cross following a quickly taken short corner, and completed his hattrick as he beat Paul Scharner and finished with a cool effort across Stojkovic.
The win moves City back up to fifth spot, two points behind Tottenham and two clear of Liverpool in the race for the final Champions League spot.
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Vieira, De Jong, Adam Johnson, Tevez, Adebayor. Subs: Taylor, Richards, Onuoha, Santa Cruz, Sylvinho, Barry, Bellamy.
Wigan: Stojkovic, Melchiot, Caldwell, Bramble, Figueroa, McCarthy, Diame, Thomas, Scharner, Rodallega, Moreno. Subs: Gohouri, Scotland, Moses, Pollitt, N’Zogbia, Gomez, Sinclair.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)