• FA Cup

Pellegrini: First-half performance our worst

ESPN staff
March 9, 2014
Manuel Pellegrini defended his decision to leave out three of his first-choice back line © Getty Images

Manuel Pellegrini admitted Manchester City's first-half performance against Championship outfit Wigan was the worst of his reign after they crashed out of the FA Cup.

The City manager accepted his side were slow to start as goals from Jordi Gomez and James Perch ended their hopes of a quadruple.

Samir Nasri scored for City but they could not find an equaliser as FA Cup holders Wigan, who beat City in last season's final, advanced to meet Arsenal at Wembley in the last four.

Pellegrini said: "I think that maybe it is the worst half we have in the year. We didn't have the pace to play against a team that is in a very good moment.

"We gave 55 minutes to Wigan without playing at the pace we needed to play. [When] we reacted, I think it was a little bit late because we couldn't draw or win the game."

Pellegrini left Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov as unused substitutes and did not select Fernandinho or Pablo Zabaleta in the matchday 18 but, despite making six changes, denied they were a factor in City's defeat.

He added: "I didn't leave Kompany or Kolarov on the bench because we had to play against Barcelona. They didn't play because we are always making rotation in the cup and Premier League and they play 90 minutes for the national squad on Wednesday. It was important for them to have a rest."

Pellegrini made a triple substitution but left top scorer Sergio Aguero, who missed all of February's games with a hamstring injury, on for the full game.

But he insisted that will not affect the striker's ability to face Barcelona in Wednesday's Champions League tie.

He added: "He is now in shape to play the 90 minutes. We needed him and he played the 90 minutes."

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