The Championship club, who won the trophy last season in a final victory over City, faced an anxious end to the game after Samir Nasri pulled a goal back for Manuel Pellegrini’s rich array of multi-million pound signings.
But thanks to the Wigan manager, this was a victory for the romance of the cup, for hard work and pragmatism over Middle East petro billions, and helped restore some much-needed credibility and variety in the famous old competition.
The only minor consolation for City supporters is they were defeated by Rosler, whose four years at the club in the 1990s left him as one of the most popular players in the club’s recent memory.
That heady Wembley day last May, in which relegation-bound Wigan beat a City side who were not exactly offering maximum effort for unpopular former manager Roberto Mancini, seemed to have been long consigned to the history books, but it took Rosler’s team less than half an hour to stir echoes of that famous afternoon.
Not for the first time this season, the source of City’s defensive woes was central defender Martin Demichelis, who allowed Marc-Antoine Fortune to twist past him to the byline then compounded the error by tripping him blatantly. Gomez, one of four survivors from the cup final in Wigan’s starting line-up, showed impressive poise in waiting for goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to commit before placing his penalty into the right-hand corner.
The lead was just about a deserved one for the visitors, superbly organised by Rosler who patrolled the touchline enthusiastically barking instructions.
Indeed, there had been warning signs for City after barely a minute, when Demichelis’s poor clearance fell directly to Gomez who shot over.
But City seemed to be asserting a degree of control, with Jesus Navas particularly threatening from the right wing. The Spaniard’s cross after 23 minutes was almost turned into his own net by Ivan Ramis, with Scott Carson forced into a reflex save at the foot of his post.
The home side were unable to build on such sporadic moments, however, and looked increasingly disgruntled as the half progressed. Before the interval, three City players wrestled Callum McManaman to the ground as he weaved into the home half, with tempers flaring.
Matters were about to become far more serious for City, with barely a minute gone in the second half, as Wigan claimed a second goal that, again, raised serious questions about the home side’s defending.
City failed to react after Joleon Lescott headed out of the City area and were even slower to respond as James McArthur sent a low cross skidding across the six-yard box from the left. Perch sped in ahead of Gael Clichy and slid the ball past Pantilimon.
Pellegrini must have been as stunned as the watching City supporters and responded by making three substitutions — throwing on James Milner, Edin Dzeko and David Silva.
After 63 minutes, Clichy almost made amends for his part in Wigan’s second goal when he curled a superb cross not the head of Dzeko, whose attempt hit the post and ricocheted to safety and, soon after, Sergio Aguero’s first-time shot from Milner’s cross was well held by Carson.
The pressure was mounting and finally counted, after 68 minutes, when Nasri handed City a foothold in the tie.
Clichy’s left-wing corner was headed on by Demichelis and Micah Richards forNasri, whose low, left-foot shot beat the dive of the unsighted Carson.
It was the start of a frantic finale in which the traffic flowed relentlessly towards the Wigan goal. An Emmerson Boyce clearance struck Aguero and almost curled into the goal, the same defender cleared heroically from under his crossbar with Dzeko poised.
Fortune could have settled the tie in injury-time, after being played clean through by Gomez, only to be denied by Pantilimon but the miss proved irrelevant.
MAN CITY (4-4-2): Pantilimon 6; Richards 5, Demichelis 4, Lescott 6, Clichy 5; Navas 5 (Dzeko 52, 7), Toure 5 (Silva 52, 7), Garcia 5, Nasri 7; Aguero 6, Negredo 5 (Milner 52, 7).
WIGAN (4-2-1-2): Carson 8; Perch 8, Boyce 9, Ramis 8, McCann 7 (Barnett 45, 7), Crainey 7; McArthur 7, McEachran 7 (Espinoza 66, 7); Gomez 8; McManaman 7 (McClean 58, 7), Fortune 7.
Referee: A Taylor 6.