Mario Balotelli marked his return to the Manchester City starting lineup with a goal in a 2-0 win against Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The Italian hadn’t scored a Premier League goal since March but justified Roberto Mancini’s faith in him by notching the opening goal in yet another lethargic display on the road from the champions.

It was harsh on the Latics who, for almost 70 minutes, had carried over the momentum gained from their win against Reading on Saturday and took the game to the visitors only to end up empty handed at the final whistle.

City have struggled to perform on their travels this season, seven times in their six previous away league games, and they once again lacked the zip and penetration usual displayed when playing in front of their own supporters.

That being said, they still managed to carve out a few notable opportunities in the first half with Sergio Aguero and Maicon both flashing early efforts wide of Ali Al-Habsi’s goal.

They still had to be on their toes at the back as Wigan attacked with vigour and Joe Hart had to be alert to tip Arouna Kone’s header over the bar before watching Jordi Gomez’s free kick sail just wide.

Balotelli came close to scoring just after the break, nodding Maicon’s cross just wide, while Kone should have at least hit the target with his header after being picked out by Ronnie Stam in the penalty area.

It proved to be a crucial miss as Balotelli struck in the 69th minute, needing two bites of the cherry to beat Al-Habsi after following following up on Gareth Barry’s effort that was spilled by the Oman stopper.

And three minutes later the points were wrapped up, James Milner arrowing an unstoppable effort into the top corner from 20-yards to keep City on the toes of rivals Manchester United at the top and prolong their unbeaten start to the campaign.

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