WIGAN ATHLETIC 0, MAN CITY 1.
Edin Dzeko helped settle the nerves as jittery Manchester City ended their away-day blues at Wigan Athletic.
The big Bosnian striker scored the goal which helped City halt a worrying run of three defeats from their last four Barclays Premier League road trips.
And while City remain a pale shadow of early season, the win at the DW Stadium helped them re-establish a three-point lead at the top of the table.
But without the calming influence of the suspended Vincent Kompany at the back and the guile of Yaya Toure going forward, City again looked far from a formidable force against the division’s bottom club whose one home league win of the season had been recorded way back in August.
Indeed, City keeper Joe Hart admitted after the match it was “not pretty” to watch, but the win was all important.
That was confirmed by City manager Roberto Mancini who said: “Yes, it was important to win and to take three points.
“We knew it would be difficult because Wigan played very well and in Roberto Martinez they have a fantastic manager. They are dangerous at home as they shown with draws against Chelsea and Liverpool.
“We played well in the first half and had three or four incredible chances to score a second goal
“This month is not about playing well but taking maximum points from our games.”
City could easily have fallen behind in the third minute when Joleon Lescott failed to clear a left-wing cross from Spanish winger Albert Crusat.
The ball broke to James McArthur whose drive was deflected for a corner as City lived dangerously.
Victor Moses also robbed the hapless Lescott, but after bursting into the penalty area blazed over.
Dzeko had an early header for City which wasn’t far wide and it was the striker who gave City the lead midway through the opening half.
David Silva delivered a pinpoint free kick from the left and Dzeko rose to head home his 13th goal of the season high to the left of keeper Ali Al Habsi.
City were still lacking their early-season fluency and a drive from McArthur brought a decent diving save from Hart.
Wigan could have fallen further behind on the stroke of half time after a City breakaway. Silva released Sergio Aguero whose shot was parried by Al Habai as his defenders scrambled the loose ball to safety.
City ought to have extended their advantage early in the second half when Dzeko and Silva were denied by the brilliance of Al Habsi and moments later Aguero weaved his way through the Wigan defence only to be thwarted in front of goal as he attempted to walk the ball into the net.
Wigan were desperately unlucky not to equalise with 20 minutes left when Moses released James McCarthy whose low shot was superbly kept out by Hart, a match-winning save if ever there was one.
Hart also had to turn a shot from McCarthy round the post for a corner as Wigan pressed for an equaliser.
Dzeko was City’s most potent attacking threat as he had another shot which took a wicked deflection, but Al Habsi athletically turned the ball over the crossbar.
Aguero had a great chance to seal victory with six minutes left, but snatched at his shot and pulled it wide when he ought to have hit the target.
Wigan applied considerable pressure late on but City, with Nedum Onuoua brought on as a third central defender, defended resolutely to repel everything the hosts threw at them in pursuit of an equaliser.