Roberto Mancini says Manchester City were worthy winners against Reading despite Gareth Barry’s winner not coming until stoppage time.
Premier League champions City looked set to be held by the bottom-placed club before Gareth Barry rose above Nicky Shorey to head in David Silva’s cross in the 92nd minute.
City’s win closes the gap on leaders Manchester United to three points.
“I think we deserved to win but when you are in the last two or three minutes of extra time, it could be difficult,” Mancini said.
“These games, if you don’t score in the first half when you have a lot of chances to score, I think they can be strong.
“They played well, they defended well, for 90 minutes with all players behind the ball. We didn’t find space to score.
“When you have one chance, you have to score. In the end, I am happy with the victory but we had a big problem.”
The match was City’s last home game of 2012 and they won it in a manner in keeping with the rest of the year, notably last season’s title decider.
“In this we have improved a lot. We want to recover so when we are losing we try until the end to score, to recover the game,” Mancini said.
“Our character is strong. Sometimes you can win, sometimes you can’t but I am very happy because we have recovered a lot of games like today.
“But it is more important to score before. If not, my heart is not strong.”
Reading boss Brian McDermott disagreed and felt Barry’s goal only came as a result of a foul on Nicky Shorey. The Royals had defended stoutly for over 90 minutes.
“That goal at the end is just wrong. He is on Nicky Shorey’s back and it is an absolutely certain foul,” McDermott said.
“I cannot believe that has happened. That decision today has killed us.
“I spoke to the referee and he said he hung in the air. You can hang in the air if you are someone’s back – you have got to get those decisions right.
“I am gutted for our players tonight because they were terrific and they deserved a point,” he said.