MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, April 17- Carlos Tevez struck late on to give Manchester City a 1-0 win against unlucky Wigan in their FA Cup final dress rehearsal at Eastlands on Wednesday.
Argentina striker Tevez netted his 11th league goal of the season seven minutes from full time to narrow the gap to 13 points between City and Premier League leaders Manchester United, who only drew at West Ham.
City’s win could delay United’s title celebrations as their bitter rivals will only clinch the trophy in the next round of fixtures if Roberto Mancini’s men lose at Tottenham on Sunday while United beat Aston Villa on Monday.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was keen to get across the message about the importance of staying in the Premier League and there were only muted celebrations from the Latics on Saturday when they beat Millwall to reach their first FA Cup final.
Martinez made two changes with forward Franco Di Santo and keeper Joel Robles replacing Callum McManaman and Ali Al Habsi respectively.
City had Micah Richards making his first appearance since the England defender suffered a knee injury in October.
Aleksandar Kolarov, Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia also came in for Gael Clichy, Matija Nastasic and James Milner.
Mancini threw the towel in on the title weeks ago and the FA Cup may represent their only realistic hope of silverware this season, but five wins from six games is at least delaying United’s coronation.
City were struggling to find space early on but a tricky run from Sergio Aguero opened up the Wigan defence before the Argentina international curled wide from a tight angle.
Richards may have been out for seven months but he showed no sign of any rustiness as he got across the area to cut out a clever chipped ball from Di Santo that was heading to the feet of Shaun Maloney in front of goal.
Wigan had an even better chance in the 35th minute when Arouna Kone broke free before finding Maloney in the area.
The Scotland attacker’s clever flick found Di Santo before the Argentina forward slipped two City defenders but could not beat Joe Hart in the hosts’ goal.
City broke away immediately but Aguero could not reach Richards’ ball across the face of goal.
Mancini brought off Aguero at the break for Edin Dzeko with Garcia moving back into the defence to form a five-man back line but that did not stop Wigan creating a chance right after the restart.
Maloney weaved down the left before cutting inside and his shot beat Hart, but Lescott was on hand to clear the ball away to safety.
Mancini opted for change again with Milner on for Garcia and the England international was straight into the action but his cross was just too far in front of City’s attackers.
City were starting to find space and Robles had to be alert to close down Dzeko before blocking the Bosnian striker’s effort with his boot.
But the reigning champions did get the winner when Kolarov fed Tevez and he shook off the challenges of Paul Scharner and Jordi Gomez to break into the area before firing home the winner into the top corner.