Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini praised the timely return of his side’s winning spirit as they snatched a last-gasp victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.
Fernandinho struck a 88th minute winner as City killed off a Villa comeback at the Etihad Stadium to claim a 3-2 Premier League victory which lifted them back up to second in the table.
City were not at their best but looked to have the game sewn up as they went 2-0 ahead through Sergio Aguero - pouncing on an early Brad Guzan blunder - and Aleksandar Kolarov’s fine free-kick.
But FA Cup finalists Villa quickly replied through Tom Cleverley and looked to have claimed a hard-earned point in their relegation fight through Carlos Sanchez five minutes from time.
City needed to respond and, with team and Pellegrini under heavy scrutiny following the collapse of their title bid, Fernandinho stepped forward to save his side.
While many might count City fortunate to secure three points against Tim Sherwood’s battling Villans, Pellegrini disagrees.
"I don't think it was fortunate,” said the boss.
"We didn't play well and I think Aston Villa played very well, especially in possession of the ball, but they didn't have chances to score, just the two set-pieces from which they drew the game.
"So, I don't know why we are fortunate that we scored the third goal from a set-piece in the same way they scored their two goals.
"It is very important to continue with the spirit we had today. It is not easy when you are winning 2-0 and then they draw 2-2 to go again for the match. We did it.
"With this spirit, another game we don't lose."
The victory lifted City into second place - for at least one night - and strengthened their grip on a top four finish.
One downside was an injury to midfielder Yaya Toure, who was feeling his hamstring in the first half and withdrawn at the interval.
Pellegrini said: "It is difficult to know today what will happen but it was not a precaution. It was a muscle injury. We will see tomorrow or Monday how important [an injury] it is."