Mancini backs Wigan to beat the drop
© Getty Images

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini backed Wigan to avoid relegation following his side's 1-0 win over the Latics.

A stunning late strike from Carlos Tevez denied Roberto Martinez's Wigan a point after a gutsy display from the visitors at Eastlands on Wednesday.

Wigan remain in the relegation zone, three points from safety, but Mancini said: "I think Wigan will stay up because they play very well, they do not deserve to be relegated and also because Roberto Martinez is a good manager, his team play very well.

"I think they are the best football team at the bottom, they do not play long ball, they take some risks. They fight every year down there and for this reason I think they deserve to stay up.

"Wigan play better than us for 60 minutes, they had chances to score. In the last 25 minutes, we had chances to win but they probably do not deserve to lose."

City's win moves them to 13 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United, who were held to a draw at West Ham, but Mancini is under no illusions about the destiny of the title.

"It is over," said Mancini who is not buoyed by City's run of five wins in six league games which continues to delay United's 20th English league title celebrations.

The Latics had chances in the first half with Franco Di Santo going close after the Argentina forward slipped two City defenders but could not beat Joe Hart in the hosts' goal.

Right after the break, Shaun Maloney weaved down the left before cutting inside and his shot beat Hart but Joleon Lescott was on hand to clear the ball away to safety.

But it was City who got the winner when Kolarov fed Tevez in the 83rd minute and he shook off the challenges of Paul Scharner and Jordi Gomez to break away before firing home the winner into the top corner from the edge of the area.

The defeat keeps Wigan deep in trouble as they try to catch fourth bottom Aston Villa.

Martinez confident
But Martinez believes his team's performance against the champions proves they can avoid the drop. "The mentality is very good from us, the performance is exactly what we needed," said Martinez.

"The disappointment is that we did not have belief in front of goal. That is the lesson we need to take. If we play like that in every game of the season, we will be OK.

"The lesson is that when you play well you have to win the game. When you are better tactically and technically, you have to have the belief you can win the game.

"I thought it was worthy of three points. We did not get them but that is what football brings. We may play worse in some games and get three points."

Martinez believes the fight for survival will go down to the final game, when his side host Aston Villa at the DW Stadium.

"I see it going down to the final game, we are playing Aston Villa. We talk about six pointers and it does not get bigger than that," added Martinez. That is something we would be happy about from where we came from but we have a lot of games before that."

These sides meet again next month in the FA Cup final at Wembley, but Martinez remains focused on Premier League survival. "We have to work to achieve our aim before that which is staying in the league and we need to take this performance into other games," he said.