Nicolas Otamendi felt Manchester City’s scrappy 2-1 win over Norwich City was due reward for the Premier League leaders’ battling qualities.
Otamendi, who scored six times from centre-back for Valencia in La Liga last season, opened his City account by powering home Kevin De Bruyne’s 67th-minute corner.
The hosts appeared to have thrown away victory at the Etihad Stadium when a dreadful error from goalkeeper Joe Hart presented Norwich striker Cameron Jerome with a tap-in seven minutes from time.
But Manuel Pellegrini’s team finished strongly, winning penalties in the 89th minute and deep into stoppage time.
Yaya Toure decisively converted the first spot-kick, which saw Norwich captain Russell Martin sent off for blocking Raheem Sterling’s goalbound shot with his arm, before Aleksandar Kolarov fired his 12-yard attempt wide with the last kick of the match.
City fans regularly sung of their team’s capacity to ‘fight to the end’ on the way to their final-day Premier League title triumphs in 2011-12 and 2013-14, and Argentina international Otamendi feels it is a reputation well earned by his team-mates.
“I’m really, really happy that we won this game and that we played well, and obviously I’m really pleased I scored my first goal for City,” said the 27-year-old, who was named as man-of-the-match.
“I heard about the ‘fight to the end’ spirit we have here before I arrived, but in all honesty it’s just a pleasure for me to be playing for this club.
“We are a group of players who work really hard and it’s true, we never give up and we got our reward for that belief.
“This was a tough game but I think we were good value for the three points and it would have been tough to have come away with only a draw so we are pleased.”