Manuel Pellegrini was a happy man after Manchester City bounced back from successive defeats with a 4-1 Capital One Cup win over Sunderland.
City, who were beaten by Juventus in the Champions League and West Ham in the Premier League in the space of five days last week, raced into a 4-0 lead inside 36 minutes at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night on their way to a 4-1 third-round win.
It was the perfect response for Pellegrini, who fielded a strong side despite missing eight senior men through injury.
He said: “Really it was important to win the way we did today because we have just come from two important defeats, one in the Champions League and the other in the Premier League, so it was important to start this Capital One Cup in the way that we did in the first half.
“It’s important to win. Maybe we didn’t deserve to lose the two games that we lost, but we did, so it was important not to continue in that sense.”
Sunderland’s fate was decided inside 26 catastrophic first-half minutes as a Sergio Aguero penalty, Kevin de Bruyne’s strike, a Vito Mannone own goal and Raheem Sterling’s 36th-minute effort gave the visitors an unassailable lead.
The home side felt Patrick van Aanholt’s challenge on Jesus Navas which led to the spot-kick might have been outside the area and were aggrieved to see a Fabio Borini equaliser chalked off for a foul on Nicolas Otamendi, but ultimately Ola Toivonen’s 83rd-minute consolation header was all they had to show for their efforts.
Aguero, De Bruyne and Sterling, who cost a combined total of around £140million, were simply irresistible, although Pellegrini was unwilling to label them the best front three in the country.
He said: “We will see. We have a lot of games to play in the league. They are very good players and at the end of the season, we will see which are the best players in the league.
“It’s important now to be focusing game-by-game and not to think about individual players.”
City went into the game without David Silva, Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala, Gael Clichy, Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho, but Pellegrini is hopeful of having at least a couple of them back for Saturday’s league trip to Tottenham.