English Premiership

Pellegrini salutes gritty City

Manuel Pellegrini (AFP)
Manuel Pellegrini (AFP)

Manchester - Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City showed the spirit they will need to maintain their Premier League title challenge after securing a late 2-1 win over Swansea.

Pellegrini's side looked set to drop two points at home to their managerless opponents on Saturday when substitute Bafetimbi Gomis drove in a 90th-minute equaliser for his first goal since August.

But City then found a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Yaya Toure's shot was deflected in off the back of Kelechi Iheanacho.

The victory moved City back to the top of the table, although Arsenal will replace them on Sunday with a victory at bottom club Aston Villa, while Leicester will have the opportunity to regain first place for themselves when they host Chelsea on Monday.

City's title credentials were severely questioned after a lacklustre 2-0 loss at Stoke last weekend, but Pellegrini was encouraged by the way his players overcame their inconsistent display against Swansea and found a way to grind out the victory.

"I think we showed the spirit of this team when Swansea came back to 1-1. There were just two minutes more to play. We tried to score and fortunately we got another goal," Pellegrini said.

"Of course, there was a feeling of relief. Without the last two minutes, maybe we would have won 1-0.

"For me, it would have been very important to keep a clean sheet and win 1-0.

"We didn't play well, but we got the three points. It was important to win the game.

"We had that unfortunate match against West Ham in September, when we had 20 shots on goal and lost 2-1.

"I knew before this game that it would be very difficult. We were not 100 per cent recovered from the Champions League game against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were both fitness doubts until yesterday."

Defeat means that Swansea, who sacked manager Garry Monk on Wednesday, have won just one of their last 12 league matches, and are only a point above the relegation zone.

They need a new manager quickly, but caretaker boss Alan Curtis said he did not know when chairman Huw Jenkins would appoint a permanent replacement for Monk.

"We have had different types of manager in the past. We have always brought in a manager to suit our style rather than changing everything," Curtis said.

"Whoever it is, the most important thing is to get the right man."

Gomis hadn't been on the scoresheet since netting in each of Swansea's first four league matches this season, and had come in for heavy criticism for his recent performances.

Curtis had dropped the striker to the bench as he began with a 4-3-3 formation, featuring Gylfi Sigurdsson as a false nine, in a mirror of the set-up that Stoke had used to beat City seven days earlier.

But Gomis carried a significant threat when he came on, which pleased the stand-in manager.

"He is a goalscorer and if you are not scoring goals then you will get criticism," Curtis said.

"He showed today what a great player he is. Sometimes when scorers are not scoring, you have to take them out of the firing line. But we see his qualities on a regular basis in training.

"I thought when Gomis scored, it would have been a fantastic point but maybe that is the difference between teams at the bottom and top, that little bit of luck.

"I thought we were excellent and deserved to get something."

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