Manchester City settled for a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic, missing the chance to finally move into the big four of the English Premier League.
|Pablo Zabaleta, right, takes the long walk[GALLO/GETTY]
The pressure was on manager Mark Hughes as Martin Petrov's equaliser one minute into the second half earned City a point which kept them in the leading pack, but their hopes of victory were dashed by the sending-off of Argentine right back Pablo Zabaleta.
City remained in fifth spot with 17 points from eight matches, five behind champions Manchester United who top the table having played one more game.
For all of big-spending Manchester City's A-list signings they were outplayed in a dull first half and seemed to be heading for their second defeat of the season when they fell behind on the stroke of half-time.
Wigan, who beat Chelsea in their previous home game, had threatened before Charles N'Zogbia reacted quicker than Wayne Bridge to stab the ball into the net after City keeper Shay Given had parried Hugo Rodallega's shot.
City responded immediately in the second half, scoring from virtually their first attack of the match.
Carlos Tevez made ground down the right and his cross reached Petrov who allowed the ball to run across his body before dispatching a left-foot shot past Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland.
Kirkland dislocated his finger during the second half but was able to carry on and it was City who were given a bigger problem when Zabaleta dived in on Jason Scotland and was shown a second yellow card and a red by the referee.
Zabaleta's second foul clearly deserved a booking but there had been some debate about Steve Wiley's decision to issue the Argentina defender with his first yellow card for a challenge on Maynor Figueroa.
Rodallega was denied a Wigan winner as City held on for a point that satisfied their manager Mark Hughes.
"Given the circumstances, going down to 10 it was difficult but I think we showed great quality," Hughes told British broadcaster Sky Sports.
"When we got back on level terms I felt we would go on to win but the sending-off changed the whole momentum. Maybe last season we wouldn't have got anything out of this game."