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Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini hailed hat-trick hero Carlos Tevez following an "important" victory against Wigan Athletic that keeps the Eastlands club in the race to finish fourth in the Premier League.

Roberto Mancini speaks to ESPN

• Man City 3-0 Wigan
• Given praise for Tevez

Tevez scored all three goals in 12 second-half minutes during Monday night's 3-0 victory, after Wigan's Gary Caldwell was sent off for a tackle on the Argentina striker in the 55th minute.

City have yet to lose a league game in which Tevez has scored but with the Blues now just two points behind Tottenham Hotspur, who occupy the final Champions League qualifying place, Mancini insisted that taking maximum points was the crucial thing.

"The result was the most important," said Mancini. "I think in the second half we played better than the first half. I didn't like the first half because for me we didn't play good football. But we changed the tempo, probably after the red card the game was changed."

Tevez's performance proved to be the difference between the two sides and Mancini reserved special praise for his leading goalscorer.

"It was a good performance by Carlos," the Italian said. "He scored three important goals and we won this game. I am happy with him.

"He is scoring a lot of goals and has always been a good player. He is a young player, who is improving every year."

Tevez celebrated his first two goals by waving a shin-pad with the nickname of his daughter Flopy on it - and was booked for going into the crowd after his final strike.

Meanwhile, Pablo Zabaleta will serve a two-match ban after picking up his 10th booking of the season against Wigan.

The Argentina star was cautioned for a second-half foul on Hugo Rodallega and will now be suspended for Saturday's trip to Burnley and the home encounter with Birmingham on April 11.

Nigel de Jong is facing a similar sanction, having amassed nine bookings, although if he avoids further punishment in City's next two games he will escape a ban.


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