Manuel Pellegrini singled out Sergio Aguero and Joe Hart for praise after Manchester City came from behind to kickstart their Champions League campaign with a last-gasp 2-1 win at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Aguero put aside a night of personal frustration to score a 90th-minute penalty winner at Borussia Park after Hart had made a string of impressive saves at a raucous Borussia Park.
Hart saved a penalty from Raffael as well as a number of other shots from the dangerous Brazilian and his team-mates in open play.
He could not prevent Lars Stindl opening the scoring as the hosts finally found a way through after 54 minutes.
But Nicolas Otamendi fired home an equaliser - even though replays suggested Martin Demichelis’ initial shot had crossed the line seconds earlier - and City were rewarded for a strong finish as Aguero had the final word.
The Argentinian had spurned several opportunities throughout the game but banished his disappointment to step up and slot a cool winner after being fouled in the area.
Pellegrini knew where credit was due, first paying tribute to the performance of Hart.
He said: “Joe made three very important saves. He saved a penalty and after that also made brilliant saves. The performance of Joe was very important for us.”
Pellegrini also praised the character of Aguero, who is yet to hit form this season and has recently been hampered by a knee injury.
He said: “Sergio had clear chances to score. It’s then not easy to score a penalty in the last minute, and when the foul for the penalty is on him also. We know how important Sergio is for our team.”
The result gave City their first points in Group D after losing their opener to Juventus a fortnight ago.
Yet it was a game of many chances at both ends and the scoreline could easily have finished the other way round.
Pellegrini said: “I think the first thing is it was a very important win - I think both teams deserved to win.
“Borussia Monchengladbach played very well for the first 65 minutes but Joe made some very good saves.
“We had opportunities we missed and they deserved to be winning 1-0, but for last 25 minutes we had a very strong reaction, scored the two goals and had other chances.”
Hart accepted City were not at their best but, after poor form of late, felt the result was crucial.
Hart told BT Sport: “We didn’t play well. We were really disjointed and have been in the last couple of games in the Premier League that we’ve lost.
“We’re not really happy with the performance but the win puts us in a good position.”