Roberto Mancini has praised Manchester City's resilience after his side mounted a comeback against Tottenham to maintain their unbeaten record in the Premier League this season.
After draws with West Ham and Ajax in their last two outings, City were desperate to get back to winning ways and Edin Dzeko's late strike helped them keep the pace with league leaders Manchester United.
Mancini believes the home side finally showed glimpses of the attitude that saw them recover from a 2-1 deficit against QPR on the final day of last season to claim the Premier League title.
"It was a difficult moment [drawing two games]," he said. "We had a lot of important players injured and today I saw the same spirit from the players that I saw last year.
"In the first half we played well. Tottenham, I didn't feel had chances apart from a couple of set pieces. We need to improve there. But after they scored first I thought we played fantastic."
Mancini blasted the referees during City's midweek match against Ajax after Mario Balotelli was denied an injury-time penalty and the officials were again in the spotlight with two penalty appeals waved away.
But Mancini stepped away from his criticism this time, instead focussing on the moral boost that three points brings to the club.
"We are unlucky with referees at the moment," Mancini said. "We made some mistakes in the Champions League but in football you can never say never.
"Today we deserved to win this game, the players were fantastic. The supporters were fantastic and in the second half they were like the 12th player on the pitch.
"The Premier League season is long and difficult - there are a lot of teams who can fight for the title. Tottenham can come back and fight for it, as can Arsenal."
After coming off the bench to score the winner for the third time this season, Edin Dzeko admitted he was tired of the 'super-sub' tag and the 26-year-old believes he has done enough to earn a start.
Mancini acknowledges Dzeko's frustration, but insists he will continue to utilise all of his attacking options.
"He is not happy [being a substitue]," Mancini said. "A player who is happy on the bench does not exist.
"We had three important strikers today. Last year we won the championship because of goals from our strikers, today we missed some goals from them but hopefully they can score again soon."