City down battling Latics
Mario Balotelli and James Milner struck in the second half as champions Manchester City edged out spirited Wigan 2-0 on a freezing night at the DW Stadium.
City took time to warm up and Wigan had several chances before Balotelli, moments after a bad miss, changed the game 21 minutes from time with his first Barclays Premier League goal since March.
Milner, having not long been on the field, then doubled the lead with a superb strike before being forced off injured.
The result extended City's unbeaten Premier League run to 20 matches and kept them within a point of leaders Manchester United.
City were the first to go close when Maicon charged down the right and fired narrowly over from a tight angle before Wigan threatened on the counter-attack after a City move broke down and Franco di Santo released Arouna Kone, whose long-range shot was grabbed by Joe Hart at the second attempt.
Wigan's Ronnie Stam beat Zabaleta with a superb run down the right and crossed from the byline. Kone beat Hart in the air, but his header dropped on to the roof of the net, much to the relief of the goalkeeper who felt, incorrectly, the ball had gone out before Stam crossed.
Jordi Gomez, high on confidence after a match-winning hat-trick against Reading, appealed for a penalty after Zabaleta wrapped his arm around his body, but referee Mark Halsey deemed his fall too theatrical.
After being shaded in the first half, City upped the tempo and looked a much stronger proposition after the break. Yaya Toure blazed over before Balotelli was guilty of a glaring miss when he headed wide from close range at the far post from an inch-perfect Maicon cross.
Ali Al Habsi was unable to hold Gareth Barry's low strike from the edge of the area in the 69th minute and Balotelli was quick to react. The Italian's first effort was blocked, but he made no mistake with the second chance and he emphatically tucked away his third goal of the season in all competitions.
City put the result beyond doubt just three minutes later as substitute Milner, brought on for the ineffective Javi Garcia, found the top corner with a stunning long-range strike.