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22:51 16th January 2012


Latics match City but keeper's foot denies a draw


Dzeko 22

Report by Nick Taylor

After Edin Dzeko gave Manchester City the lead on 22 minutes with a header from a cleverly placed free kick, Latics could have got themselves a more than well-earned draw but for Joe Hart saving a James McCarthy shot with the tip of his boot.

Latics shut City out for most of the game and were competitive throughout but just lacked that cutting edge in the penalty area.

A cold January night was set to heat up as City arrived needing to win to go clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League and Latics could have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone with a win of their own.

City started the game with great spells of possession but rarely threatened in the first half until, Gary Caldwell was penalised for a foul on the left hand side of the edge of the area. The free kick was effortlessly floated in and Edin Dzeko rose from a crowd of players to put the away side in the lead.

It looked to energise Latics as they tried to find a way through the City back line but, no matter how much the home side tried to do it, they were shut out by a well organised back four and a world class goalkeeper in Hart.

After half time, Latics continued to push up the field and could have been awarded a penalty just two minutes into the second half for handball by Stefan Savic but the referee waved play on and deemed it to be accidental.

City then headed towards the Latics goal looking to kill the game off and they would have if it hadn't have been for resident Omani stopper Ali Al Habsi stretching out a massive hand to palm a Sergio Aguero shot round the post.

On 70 minutes it was the chance of the game for Latics as they hit City on the break with Hugo Rodallega and McCarthy, the Colombian's half pitch run ended with a finely weighted pass through to the Irishman but, just as it looked like Latics would draw level out came the big left foot of England's first choice keeper Hart to deny McCarthy his first goal of the season.

From then on the game petered out with a flurry of bookings for clumsy challenges from both sides with the final talking point of the game being Maynor Figueroa's handball on the half way line. He jumped up to challenge Aguero for the header and almost caught the ball with Aguero seemingly through on goal.

The referee took the sensible approach and only booked the Honduran.

Latics tried and tried to deliver the ball into the box but City shut them out to deny Latics a chance of salvaging a draw.

The defeat leaves Roberto Martinez's men in 20th place in the Barclays Premier League with Man City going three points clear at the top of the table.

Latics team: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Stam, Crusat (Di Santo 68), McArthur (Watson 68), McCarthy, Gomez (McManaman 81), Moses, Rodallega.

Unused subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Boyce, Sammon.

Man City team: Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Savic, Lescott, Milner, Barry, Nasri (De Jong 74), Silva (Onuoha 81), Aguero (Johnson), Dzeko.

Unused subs: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Hargreaves, Rekik

    Data provided by Press Association