A MAGNIFICENT hat-trick from a genuine world-class superstar ensured Wigan’s proud unbeaten start to the season was smashed to smithereens.
Roberto Martinez can hardly claim he didn’t see it coming - having claimed in the build-up that Sergio Aguero is ‘the closest thing you’ll see to Messi and Maradona’.
But knowing what’s coming and being able to do something about it are two completely different things.
And the £38million man – backed up by the equally-impressive David Silva – showed that, even at that price tag, he could prove to be one of the bargains of the season.
All three finishes were tidy efforts that left Ali Al Habsi with no chance, meaning City could even afford to miss a penalty through Carlos Tevez and still win at a canter.
Latics had done well to stay in the game after a one-sided first half saw City only convert one of their numerous clear-cut opportunities.
But after Hugo Rodallega smashed Wigan’s best chance straight at England goalkeeper Joe Hart just after the break, two more goals in the space of six minutes around the hour mark closed the door on any hopes the visitors had of stealing a point.
Martinez had made just one change to the side that beat QPR last week, James McArthur coming in for Jordi Gomez.
The Wigan chief clearly thought McArthur’s more combative style would be of better use in the centre of the park against the likes of Yaya Toure and James Milner.
And the back four would have been glad of the extra protection as City threw everything at their opponents from the outset.
City, joint-top of the Premier League with a 100 per cent record, fashioned their first chance with only four minutes gone, with Aguero at the heart of the move.
The Argentine played in Gael Clichy down the City left and, after Adrian Lopez blocked Silva’s shot, Adam Johnson lobbed over from inside the box.
Five minutes later, Latics found themselves outnumbered down their left-hand side, resulting in Silva’s shot being well saved by Al Habsi.
The Spaniard then caused confusion with a left-wing corner that saw Vincent Kompany’s header tipped over by the increasingly busy goalkeeper.
But the Oman No.1 had no answer when City took a deserved advantage with only 12 minutes gone.
Good work by Tevez created the opening, the ball was then laid off by Silva for Aguero to find the bottom corner with a clever finish through the legs of Maynor Figueroa.
Given the way the game had gone, Latics were looking at a long afternoon having conceded so early, but credit them they hit back and could have been level within two minutes.
A long ball from Figueroa looped over Kompany and found Franco di Santo clean through on goal.
The two-goal hero from the win over QPR toe-poked the ball past Hart, but saw it roll agonisingly beyond the far post.
Back came City, though, and it was nearly 2-0 just 17 minutes in.
The lively Silva was first to the ball in the area, and knocked it past Lopez before being unceremoniously dumped onto the turf by his compatriot for as nailed-on a penalty as you will see. Tevez was handed the responsibility from 12 yards, but his connection wasn’t great and Al Habsi got down to make a fine save diving to his right.
The reprieve had a galvanising effect on Wigan, who enjoyed their best spell with some good possession and some decent field position.
Emmerson Boyce was getting forward into some good positions from right-back, and sending over a couple of crosses that could have led to chances if the forwards had attacked the ball instead of watching on.
City showed their danger on 27 minutes, when Tevez teed up Micah Richards, who timed his run perfectly to creep up on the blind side of Figueroa, and fire in a shot that beat Al Habsi but came back off the bar.
Moments later, Aguero shot just wide of the post as City piled on the pressure, before Latics threatened through Rodallega and Momo Diame.
Neither effort forced Hart into a save, but the visitors were at least giving their opponents something to think about.
City struck the woodwork for the second time 11 minutes before the break, when Silva’s corner was headed against the post by Kompany, with Toure smashing the rebound goalwards and Joleon Lescott somehow failing to apply the finishing touch from less than a yard.
As half-time approached, Tevez dinked the ball through to Milner, who couldn’t connect, with Latics having the final chance of the opening half when Rodallega’s shot was deflected into the path of Di Santo, whose shot was quickly smothered by Hart.
City started the second period the same way they had the first, on top, with Tevez’s shot being parried away by Al Habsi barely two minutes after the restart.
But Latics knew they were still in it at 1-0, and Victor Moses laid on a gilt-edged chance for Rodallega just before the hour mark.
The Colombian’s control was perfect, but his strike was straight at Hart and the opportunity had gone.
Boyce then gave way to Ronnie Stam and Samir Nasri appeared for City for the final third, and the Frenchman made an immediate impact.
Two minutes after coming on, Nasri slipped the ball past Gary Caldwell, for Aguero to side-foot past Al Habsi from 10 yards.
And it was game over on 69 minutes later when Silva held off the challenges of a couple of Wigan players to play in Aguero, who completed his hat-trick with a sublime finish.
That was the signal for Martinez to throw on Albert Crusat for his debut along with Gomez, for Di Santo and Ben Watson.
Roberto Mancini took the opportunity at the next stop in play to give Aguero the reception his display had warranted, Mario Balotelli coming on for the closing stages – which were played out at testimonial pace with City conscious of European commitments in midweek and Latics grateful to limit the damage.
Latics: Al Habsi 7; Boyce 7, Caldwell 6, Lopez 6, Figueroa 6; Moses 7, Diame 6, Watson 7, McArthur 7, Rodallega 7; Di Santo 6. Subs: Kirkland, Stam (for Boyce, 58) 6, McCarthy, Crusat (for Di Santo, 70), Jones, Gomez (for Watson, 70), Sammon.
City: Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Johnson, Milner, Y Toure, Silva; Aguero, Tevez.
Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, K Toure, Nasri (for Tevez, 61), Razak (for Y Toure), Balotelli (for Aguero, 71), Dzeko.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Star Man: Ali Al Habsi – No chance with any of the goals and made several fine saves including the penalty.
Shots on target: WA5 MC10
Shots off target: WA4 MC13
Corners: WA3 MC8
In the book:
Martinez’s verdict: ‘I am disappointed with the performance. We showed them too much respect.’
Mancini’s verdict: ‘We had 15 chances in the first half and scored only one goal. This is a problem.’
Paul Kendrick’s verdict: Latics certainly won’t be the last team to be undone in this fashion when City are on form – 3-0 flattered the visitors hugely.