Pablo Zabaleta said Manchester City FC's last-gasp 2-1 win against an impressive Villarreal CF side in Group A was not down to luck but a reward for "fighting to the end".
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Pablo Zabaleta praised Manchester City FC's persistence after Roberto Mancini's men showed there is more than one team in Manchester with the ability to conjure dramatic last-minute victories in Europe. "We showed character," said Zabaleta after the 2-1 UEFA Champions League Group A success which proved hard on a visiting side whose performance was more like the "old Villarreal" according to defender Gonzalo Rodríguez.
Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City defender
It was important to win. Obviously, if you don't play at your best and win you [still] get three points and that is important for any team. Today we had chances to score more goals; they didn't come and it was only settled in the last minute. Obviously, it's a great victory for us and the group is still open.
We showed character as a team beyond the chances we created and couldn't take. The team kept trying to play, to create openings, and when you win in the last minute you can call it luck but it might be down to virtue too – you kept fighting to the end. The pressure is still there; it's a very even group, perhaps the most difficult in the competition. We have the team to get through it and that's what we're working for, but the pressure will always be there.
Aleksandar Kolarov, Manchester City defender
We knew that it would be a very tough game with a Villarreal side who play good football. We trusted we could win and in the last seconds we won it, which was important for us. We had trust in ourselves. It was important that we scored before half-time to go in after 45 minutes at 1-1. Villarreal are a very good team but I think we deserved to win.
Gonzalo Rodríguez, Villarreal defender
I think we played well enough to get something – there were 30 seconds left so you can imagine the mood in the dressing room. We were the old Villarreal once more. We played some good one-touch football and in the second half we had chances to score goals but we didn't, unfortunately. It is very difficult now. There are three games left, nine points and we've got two games at home – we'll try and win them all, and wait and see.
Cristián Zapata, Villarreal defender
We're very sad to have lost in the last minute. It was a hard defeat given all we did over the 90 minutes. The team were tight, we played good football against a tough opponent in City so we're disappointed. We ran, we fought, we did well – this is the positive thing.
Carlos Marchena, Villarreal defender
It's difficult. It was a game where we played well, we had some of the ball, we had a measure of control but we lost. We have to keep our heads up, we've another game on Sunday and if we work like this and play like this, we'll win a lot more games than we lose.