Kevin de Bruyne strikes late to prove his worth to Man City
Big-money summer signing scores his fifth goal in seven games to lift City to second in their group
Manuel Pellegrini hailed Kevin de Bruyne after Manchester City's big-money summer signing grabbed a late winner against Sevilla in the Champions League.
The 2-1 victory moves the Citizens into second place in Group D, one point behind leaders Juventus, who were held to a goalless draw at home to Borussia Monchengladbach. City are the only Premier League team with two wins in the current campaign.
"We bought Kevin because we knew he is a very creative player who can score and create goals and in that respect he was the perfect player to bring to our club," said Pellegrini, who paid Wolfsburg £54m for the Belgian striker in August. "It was a very close game and it was very difficult to create chances."
Opting to leave the fit-again Vincent Kompany on the bench, Pellegrini fielded a 4-4-2 formation and while De Bruyne and Jesus Navas used their pace to good effect out wide, City's defence looked vulnerable, particularly full-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna.
And the visitors struck first as Yevhen Konoplyanka fired home Vitolo's cross on the half-hour mark to silence the Etihad crowd. But just six minutes later City were level when Wilfried Bony's close-range effort took a deflection off Adil Rami.
The Spanish side continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack but Pellegrini resisted the temptation to bring Kompany off the bench until stoppage time, and his gamble paid off as De Bruyne scored the winner on 91 minutes. Yaya Toure was the creator, the Ivorian surging forward before slipping the ball to De Bruyne, whose cool finish took his tally to five goals in his last seven games.
"After our win at Borussia Monchengladbach, we have now won our last two Champions League games in the last minute, and in both games we were 1-0 down," reflected Pellegrini. "The character of the team has been criticised in Europe but these last two games reflect that we had the character not to concede a goal and to try to win."
City are at the beginning of a testing fortnight with an away trip to Sevilla in two weeks and before then Sunday's clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Asked if Kompany would return to the starting line-up for the local derby, Pellegrini replied: "We have a lot of different things to think about for the next game... Vincent is coming back from a long injury - he has been out for one month. There was a risk to give him the responsibility to play this important game. I try to pick the team every week that at this moment are ready or better to play."