Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has praised his side’s response to a “very difficult week” after they beat Hull City to rekindle their Premier League title challenge.
City exited the FA Cup and Champions League earlier this week after defeats by Wigan Athletic and Barcelona, but goals from David Silva and Edin Dzeko earned them a 2-0 win at Hull on Saturday.
The victory came despite the 10th-minute dismissal of captain Vincent Kompany and left Pellegrini’s side six points shy of Chelsea with three games in hand, after Jose Mourinho’s men crashed to a 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.
“It was a very good response from the team after a very difficult week,” Pellegrini said. “Playing with one player less for 80 minutes, it was a very important response from the team.
“Of course, it’s more difficult to play with 10 players, but I trust in the team and the players and I think we did very well with and without the ball.”
Chelsea manager Mourinho has repeatedly insisted that City have the advantage in the title race, but speaking before the London club’s defeat at Villa, Pellegrini took a diplomatic line on his team’s chances.
“We are not sending out messages to anyone, to Chelsea or any other team,” he said.
“It was a chance to come back to the Premier League after three weeks and win a game. It was important to us to return to the Premier League by winning the game, and we did it.”
Spanish midfielder Silva scored a stunning opener in the 14th minute and then set up a late Edin Dzeko strike after City had weathered a second-half battering from Steve Bruce’s Hull.
Nikica Jelavic missed two good chances to equalise for Hull, while Fernandino and Dzeko were guilty of wasting opportunities for the visitors before the Bosnian’s 90th-minute goal from Silva’s pass secured the points.
Argentine centre-back Martin Demichelis received criticism for making costly errors in the defeats against Barcelona and Wigan, but he stood out in an impressive defensive display at Hull.
“Demichelis today (Saturday) played very well, and the whole season he played very well,” said Pellegrini.
“Maybe against Wigan he conceded one penalty that was unnecessary. Against Barcelona, it was a very difficult ball (to deal with). I don’t agree with the criticism of Demichelis. I’m very pleased with his performances.”
Hull have an FA Cup semi-final – their first since 1930 – to look forward to next month, but their priority remains avoiding an instant return to the second-tier Championship.
Their cup run and key victories away from home have kept morale high, but the Tigers have not won a home match in the league in 2014.
Manager Bruce felt that, though widely expected, defeat against City was difficult to take.
“The frustrating thing is we might not ever have a better opportunity to beat them,” he said. “It became one of those frustrating afternoons. We know it’s difficult to play against 10 men.
“We’ve done it against Norwich and West Ham. We needed the game to go on longer without Silva scoring, because that gave them something to hang onto.
“It’s been a difficult week for Manchester City, but there’s a frustration that we haven’t done enough to get something from the game.
“You have to say, defensively, they were fantastic. To keep a high line was either really brave or really lucky, because most teams drop back to defend the goal.
“They kept a high line and we got caught offside so many times from crossing it. If they worked on that then they’ve done it fantastically well.”