Edin Dzeko's header saw Manchester City beat Wigan to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to three points over Manchester United.
The Bosnian leapt to deftly flick home David Silva's free-kick from the left midway through the first half.
Ali Al Habsi then denied Dzeko a second with a fine save before matching it by keeping out Silva's follow-up shot.
Mancini pleased with 'important' away win
But, although James McArthur and James McCarthy had good chances, the hosts could not find a way past Joe Hart.
City could have made the game safe, with Dzeko's deflected effort again saved and Sergio Aguero shooting wide from 12 yards late on.
There was a moment of late controversy when Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa escaped with a yellow card after handling the ball on the halfway line to stop Aguero racing clear.
But City will be grateful for a hard-fought victory, their first away from home since beating QPR on 5 November and a return to winning ways after consecutive cup defeats.
While Wigan defended compactly, they could not contain their high-scoring opponents, who, in 21 games, are now on 57 goals, just three short of the total number they scored last season.
Defeat for Roberto Martinez's team means that they remain at the bottom of the table, continuing a miserable run of form at home, where they have not won in the league since August.
With Silva back in the side following an ankle injury, City had a good rhythm to their passing as they probed throughout the first half.
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Joe Hart kept his ninth Premier League clean sheet of the season, the joint most by a goalkeeper, equalling Swansea City's Michel Vorm.
They suffered an early scare when, in a frantic passage, Hugo Rodallega could not capitalise on Joleon Lescott's error, Gareth Barry nudged over Jordi Gomez in the penalty area to wild appeals and McArthur's shot was deflected wide.
But, once they rode that storm, Silva proved his worth by floating into space and, although several moves broke down, the visitors were dominating possession.
Dzeko flashed a header wide from Gael Clichy's cross but that the lead came from a set-piece showed how hard Martinez's team were working with their five-man defence.
It took a fine jump by Dzeko to turn in Silva's free-kick, after the Bosnian had been tripped, and the striker's 14th goal of the season settled the visitors down.
Wigan did have their moments on the break with Victor Moses, playing behind Rodallega, firing over and McArthur testing Hart, although when City committed men to attack they were quick to counter and Al Habsi saved well from Aguero before half-time.
Despite their poor home record, the hosts had already drawn with Liverpool and Chelsea at the DW Stadium this season and they started the second period brightly, but only Al Habsi will know how he prevented City doubling their lead soon after the break.
Martinez happy with players attitude
The Oman keeper made a superb double stop to deny Dzeko, then Silva, and when Aguero dribbled his way into the six-yard box both the Argentine and Dzeko failed to make proper contact and the chance was spurned.
While Wigan were hanging on they always posed a threat, with Jordi Gomez impressive in midfield. And they were a toe's width from equalising when Rodallega put McCarthy through, his left-footed shot being well thwarted by England keeper Hart, who ensured his ninth Premier League clean sheet of the campaign.
Substitutes Ben Watson and Franco di Santo added some extra zeal to Wigan's play, although City had the better chances towards the end, Dzeko and Aguero both failing to take advantage of good opportunities.
City's fans were spitting mad when Figueroa only received a yellow card when, with Aguero on his shoulder, he handled the ball on the halfway line late on to stop another City counter-attack.
But, on a freezing night, City boss Roberto Mancini will be content to send his team's fans home with a victory which is evidence that, after a small blip, they have again warmed to their title challenge.
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