Roberto Mancini said Wigan deserve to stay up after his Manchester City side defeated the relegation strugglers 1-0 with a late Carlos Tevez goal.
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It leaves Wigan three points from safety, albeit with a game in hand on their relegation rivals, but Mancini insisted Roberto Martinez's team play the best football of any of the teams at the bottom of the division.
And the City manager accepted that Wigan were the better team for an hour at the Etihad Stadium.
Asked if he expected them to earn a ninth successive season in the Premier League, he replied: "I think so because they played very well. They don't deserve to be relegated. And also because Martinez is a good manager. His team played very well."
When it was put to Mancini that Wigan are the best footballing team of those in danger of the drop, he agreed.
"Yeah," he said. "They don't play long ball. They take also some risks when they start to play from the back. They try to play always.
"For 60 minutes, they played better than us. For the last 25 minutes, I think no. For the last 25 minutes, we played well, we had chances."
City closed the gap at the top of the table to league leaders Manchester United to 13 points after Sir Alex Ferguson's team drew 2-2 at West Ham.
But Mancini reiterated his belief the title race is over, adding: "Now it is finished."
The Italian praised match-winner Tevez, saying: "He scored a fantastic goal and he played really well."