FA Cup Final: Manchester City 0 - 1 Wigan

Shaun Botterill

Ben Watson rose in stopping time to break City hearts and in the process increased the speculation regarding Roberto Mancini's future

They came. They saw. They shocked.

The prevailing thought heading into the 132nd FA Cup Final was that it would be Manchester City who would triumph, adding a third trophy in successive seasons to further pad Roberto Mancini's CV as questions over his future continue to grow. It was Wigan though, threatened with spectre of an impending relegation, who snatched victory to create history as extra-time loomed at here Wembley.

And in doing so it was they who provided the story, capping an incredible journey that regardless of how the season climaxes will live for many a year and was fit to rival what underdogs Wimbledon (in 1988) or Sunderland (in 1973) achieved at this famous old story and with tradition in short supply in the modern day FA Cup proved that the old romance of the competition is still alive

Mancini had sprung a pre-match surprise with his line-up opting for Joe Hart over Costel Pantilimon, who had started the entire competition leading up to the final. His other big choice was preferring Samir Nasri ahead of James Milner in midfield and it was his charges who started brightly, the front four buzzing around a Wigan defence so beleaguered of late and it appeared City were set to take control of the game.

Wigan were not content to play the role of underdogs however and followed Roberto Martinez's game plan to the letter, a factor that Martinez would later say gave him great pride. The talents of James McCarthy and Shaun Maloney in midfield are undeniable but it Martinez's decision to deploy the width of Callum McManaman and Roger Espinoza to such effect - partly to nullify City's width but importantly to set their own tempo in attack - forced City on the back foot and it was Wigan who had the first real opportunity when the tricky feet of McManaman took him past Nastasic but he couldn't find the shot to beat Hart from close range.

The City midfield, usually so dominant with possession, failed to settle with Yaya Toure looking laboured and far from fit. The duo of Nasri and David Silva could not find a way into the game which meant that Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, whilst industrious, failed to find moments of quality and the City attack was all too often static in the face of Wigan's tight back three.

As the half drew to a close though, it was City who began to finally threaten as they turned the game up a notch. Firstly, Joan Robles stuck out a boot to deny Carlos Tevez from David Silva's cut back and then on the stroke of half time Robles again saved smartly from a Nasri shot.

City opened brightly after the break too but Mancini however was not overly convinced. Perhaps in reaction to Espinosa's bright play, he took off Nasri in favour of Milner but on the opposite wing McManaman continued to be a thorn in Clichy's side.

As the game moved to the final quarter stage the feeling was that City were finally getting closer, penning Wigan deeper towards their penalty area but in what was a surprise move, Mancini withdrew Tevez in favour of Jack Rodwell, perhaps to utilise Silva and Yaya Toure further upfield to disturb Wigan's defence. Rodwell had an immediate impact as he forced Robles into a save after meeting Milner's cross but despite City stepping up a gear a frustration about their play remained and they were unable to fashion that one clear chance that may have won them the game.

Wigan again hit back and Maloney's free kick clipped the top of Hart's bar as the travelling Wigan fans, despite being heavily outnumbered, continued to urge their side on.

Having been booked earlier in the game, Pablo Zabaleta's ill-timed lunged in the final minutes saw him received a second yellow and his marching orders - 'the correct decision' conceded Mancini later - and City buckled up and looked to play out the final minutes before regrouping for extra-time.

Wigan had other ideas though as substitute Ben Watson, only having been on the pitch for ten minutes, rose purposefully above Rodwell to power a header past Hart into the corner of the net to stun Wembley in stoppage time and bring the City players to their knees, in the process likely signalling the end of Roberto Mancini's time at the club.

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