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The Chilean underlined the importance of winning at all costs after Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace frustrated the hosts at the Etihad with a disciplined and defensive performance

Manuel Pellegrini underlined the importance of grinding out results as Manchester City narrowly defeated Crystal Palace.

Edin Dzeko’s 50th goal for the club earned City their fourth consecutive league win under the Chilean for the first time, sending them to the top of the table, with Arsenal playing on Sunday.

Palace were a threat throughout, but when asked if City were fortunate in victory Pellegrini insisted a 1-0 win after playing less than 48 hours ago was admirable - especially against a team he deemed to be very defensive-minded.

"No, I don’t think we were fortunate to win the game today," he told reporters.

"I was absolutely sure before the game that it would be very difficult, the team was not fresh so it would be very difficult game. That is why it is important to know how to win 1-0.

"We were absolutely sure that we were not going to have an easy game today against Crystal Palace; it’s very difficult when only one team wants to play and the other doesn't, I understand the way they [Palace] do it, but our team was not fresh enough."

Joe Hart was named man of the match after denying Palace a number of key opportunities, and Pellegrini claims the England international’s form is thanks to a much-required stint on the sidelines.

"I think it was good for Joe to have a rest - he needed a rest," said Pellegrini. "He’s playing at his normal performance and he’s playing as the good goalkeeper he is.

"I don’t think that he has less confidence, he always knew what we knew about him; he needed a rest, it was hard, but he always knew he would return to his position."

Palace boss Tony Pulis revealed his disappointment of coming away from the Etihad Stadium empty-handed, but conceded that it was always going to be an uphill task after just two days' rest.

"Obviously we’re disappointed, it was always going to be a tough game, a second away game in two days and coming to Manchester City - the form team in the Premier League," he said.

"The players went about their business very well and we looked very solid and we looked dangerous on the break; it’s just picking that final pass or finishing off the opportunities.

He added: "It was important that we got up [the table] with a certain number of points with the rest the group at the bottom of the table and it gives us a chance, that’s all we can ask for. If we can bring a few players in, strengthen it up a little bit and give it a good blast when the year turns round."

Asked for a response to Pellegrini’s claim that his side was the only one there to play football, Pulis bit back with: "Was that the team that cost £350 million? They gave Joe Hart man of the match – there you go."

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