Gritty City dig deep and keep title dream alive


MANCHESTER CITY moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League last night following a victory over Wigan which provided enough evidence to suggest they possess the stomach for a title fight, according to goalkeeper Joe Hart.

When Edin Dzeko glanced home David Silva’s left-wing free-kick in the 22nd minute to register his first goal since early November, City looked on course to record a straightforward win against the division’s bottom club.

But Roberto Mancini’s men, without ever having to get out of second gear, wasted a catalogue of chances to extend their lead and were indebted to Hart late on when he produced a superb block with his leg to deny James McCarthy.

“We needed that win and the big man needed a goal,” said Hart, who kept the ninth league clean sheet of his increasingly impressive season.

“It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t a pretty pitch out there. Fair play to Wigan, I think they are in a false position in the league at the moment for me so it’s a great result for us. We’ve not been great on the road recently so we’re really happy.”

City can further underline their title credentials at home against third placed Spurs on Sunday, but they surely cannot afford to be as profligate against a better calibre of opposition as they were at the DW Stadium.

Dzeko might have ended his 11-game barren spell, but he hardly endeared himself to strike partner Sergio Aguero midway through the second half when he took the ball off the Argentine’s toes six yards from goal having watched the former Atletico Madrid striker twist his way past four defenders.

The 25-year-old missed several other presentable opportunities but his manager Roberto Mancini, who may face a backlash after he waved an imaginary card at the referee for the second time in fortnight following Maynor Figueroa’s deliberate handball, believes the Bosnian striker can kick on from now until the end of the season.

He said: “I’m very happy for him because he deserved to score a goal. He scored this very important goal for us and I hope he continues it in the next game. It was all about the result and not the performance last night.”