Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City showed their champion qualities as they came from behind to claim a hard-fought win over Chelsea.
After losing to Liverpool a fortnight ago, City faced the prospect of falling 12 points behind the Premier League leaders as N’Golo Kante shot Chelsea into an early lead at the Etihad Stadium.
But City powered back to win 2-1 with both goals coming before the interval, the first a deflected strike from De Bruyne and the second a superb solo effort from Riyad Mahrez.
The result saw City, who also hit the woodwork through Sergio Aguero and had a late Raheem Sterling goal disallowed by VAR for a marginal offside, leapfrog Chelsea to go third.
De Bruyne said: “We work really hard and the main thing, when you lose a game, is to come back with a good reaction.
“That’s what we have always done over the last four or five years. I think it’s very rare to see us lose two games in a row.
“We work hard as a team and that’s what we did. We have a lot of quality to make the difference.”
City are now waiting for updates on the fitness of record goalscorer Aguero, who limped off late on with a muscular problem manager Pep Guardiola admitted “doesn’t look good”.
Chelsea, who had won their previous six games, made life tough for Guardiola’s men. City’s 46.7 per cent possession was remarkably the lowest amount a Guardiola side has had in any of the Spaniard’s 381 top-flight matches as a manager.
De Bruyne said: “We knew before the game that there would be moments where we would have trouble to get the ball.
“Everyone knows we are a team with a lot of quality with the ball but we showed we can also do the other side, with good defending.
“It’s hard to get the ball, but I think we created more chances.”
City remain nine points behind leaders Liverpool but Mahrez insisted the team are not giving that much thought.
He said: “We don’t look too much at Liverpool. We have to try to win every game, like we used to, and see how many points we have at the end.”
Chelsea slipped to fourth but they continue to impress under Frank Lampard.
Such is their progress, captain Cesar Azpilicueta feels it is now only a matter of perfecting minor details to compete with the best.
Azpilicueta told Chelsea TV: “When you play big games like this against quality teams, small details can make the difference.
“When you are in the last 25-30 metres you have to make the difference, but when we arrived there sometimes we were unlucky and sometimes we didn’t make the right choice.
“We have to improve on that if we want to go further. We know we can go further but we have to work hard to try to get the wins in these kind of games.”