MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini defended his team selection after defeat to FA Cup holders Wigan in the quarter-final ended their dream of ending the season with four trophies.
The omission of captain Vincent Kompany was one of six changes to the side which beat Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final last weekend, while England goalkeeper Joe Hart again was on the bench.
But Pellegrini insisted the second leg of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona had no bearing on his tinkering.
“I didn’t leave Kompany, [Aleksandar] Kolarov or Fernandinho on the bench because of Barcelona,” he said. “We make rotation in the cups, plus the players we left out played 90 minutes for their international sides on Wednesday, so it was important for them to rest.
“They’ve [Wigan] won their last five games in a row. We knew it would be difficult, but maybe we thought it wouldn’t be so difficult.”
Wigan were gifted a penalty on 27 minutes after defender Martin Demichelis tripped Marc-Antoine Fortune and Jordi Gomez made no mistake from 12 yards.
Two minutes after half-time James Perch doubled Wigan’s lead, taking advantage of Gael Clichy’s hesitancy to nip in front of the left-back and turn in James McArthur’s low cross.
City hit the post on 64 minutes through Edin Dzeko, but netted just four minutes later when Samir Nasri fired in a half-volley from 25 yards.
Pellegrini’s team laid siege to the Wigan goal, but a stunning block from Emmerson Boyce prevented Dzeko converting a simple tap-in and goalkeeper Scott Carson later pushed away Sergio Aguero’s fizzing strike.