Tevez hits hat-trick to fire City

Manchester City 3 Wigan Athletic 0

It is still a one-man show but one man is all Manchester City might need as they maintain their pursuit of that precious fourth place.

There was little in their performance last night to send a shudder of apprehension down to Liverpool, whom they leapfrog into fifth in the Premier League, and Roberto Martinez justifiably pointed to the questionable dismissal of centre-back Gary Caldwell as the turning point. He also issued – and later retracted – a claim late last night that the referee, Stuart Attwell, had been dishonest is his explanation of that decision. Still, City are still yet to lose when Tevez scores and the manner of his second City hat-trick – completed in 13 short minutes – suggests more scoring to come.

Tevez created a colourful diversion after scoring by whipping off a shin pad bearing the nickname he has for his eldest daughter Florencia – "Flopy" – and the anxiety City might felt about seeing their 25-goal striker later sitting on the bench with an ice pack around his left ankle was assuaged by the manager's assurances that he has no serious damage. But nothing else should detract from the anxiety Mancini must be feeling about a game which was little better than the 2-0 home defeat six days ago to Everton until its 55th minute turning point, when Caldwell launched into a strong, one-footed challenge on Tevez.

The Scot's following leg swung in after and felled Tevez who had leapt, dangerously and two-footed, from the turf and landed just in front of the former Celtic defender. Martinez was angered by Attwell telling him after the game that he had seen Caldwell challenge with two feet. "He said he saw it clearly, so that why I made sure I could see it clearly," Martinez said. "I think someone is lying don't you think? If we are looking at an incident and we can give a different opinion I can understand."

Wigan's capitulation followed 10 minutes later, with the reserve goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic – playing because Chris Kirkland was suffering with a virus – making a bizarre attempt to chest a clever ball Patrick Vieira chipped into the six-yard box. He missed, enabling Tevez to sneak in and poke the ball home. There was another tap in on 75 minutes after Adam Johnson's low cross was touched on by Vincent Kompany and by the end Tevez was striding through the Wigan defence to lash home at will.

Anything Fernando Torres does (two goals against Sunderland on Sunday) Tevez can evidently do better and it is quite possible that the battle fourth for may become the Torres v Tevez show. But beyond the Argentine, City still do not seem to know their best starting XI, they also lack invention and pace in midfield and are vulnerable at the back.

Gareth Barry, who has played every game under Mancini and missed only one all season, made way for Patrick Vieira in the holding midfield role here – Mancini's rather unconvincing explanation being that he was being spared the risk a fifth yellow card, and one game ban, before the league's moratorium wipes the slate clean. Mancini also preferred Shaun Wright-Phillips to Craig Bellamy, whom City are investigating over alleged comments about Mancini made in the tunnel after the Everton game. But after an early spell in which Emmanuel Adebayor forced a one-handed instinct stop from Stojkovic, Wigan became the more imposing side in midfield and Wright-Phillips was swapped for Bellamy at half time.

As Mancini admitted: "The first half was bad for us; in no tempo. We played with some difficulty. When we wanted to play the ball on the pitch, it was everywhere." Attwell, who has had better games denied City a good penalty call as Tevez was felled by Paul Scharner. But after the Argentine had broken the deadlock, there only ever looked one winner. Mancini has some far tougher challenges ahead – Arsenal and Manchester United on consecutive weekends a month from now and, intriguingly, Tottenham here in the penultimate match. The manager insisted in his programme notes that City must approach every game "like a Champions League final" but his side still give no impression that they look anywhere near that tournament.

Manchester City (4-4-2) Given; Zabaleta, Touré, Kompany, Garrido (Onuoha, 88); Wright-Phillips (Bellamy, 45), De Jong, Vieira, A Johnson; Tevez (Sylvinho, 88), Adebayor. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Richards, Santa Cruz, Barry.

Wigan Athletic (4-5-1) Stojkovic; Melchiot, Caldwell, Bramble, Figueroa; McCarthy, Thomas (N'Zogbia, 53), Diame, Scharner, Rodallega (Scotland, 82); Moreno (Gohuri, 82). Substitutes not used: Politt (gk), Moses, Gomez, Sinclair.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Booked: Manchester City Zabaleta, Garrido, Tevez; Wigan Scharner, Bramble.

Sent off: Caldwell (55).

Man of the match: Tevez.

Attendance: 43,524.

News
Howard Marks who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer aged 69
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us