(Reuters) - Manuel Pellegrini hailed the professionalism of his Manchester City team after they maintained their English Premier League title challenge with victory at Hull City on Saturday despite playing with 10 men for 80 minutes.
City's 2-0 win at the KC Stadium combined with Chelsea's later 1-0 loss at Aston Villa cut the London club's lead at the top to six points.
Liverpool and Arsenal could move above City into second place and cut Chelsea's lead to four points with wins on Sunday, but the three games in hand Pellegrini's team hold mean they will take the title if they keep winning.
Most importantly for City at Hull on Saturday, though, was to stop losing after morale-sapping defeats to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup and Barcelona in the Champions League over the previous six days.
"It was a very good response in a very difficult week," Pellegrini told the club's website.
"We just lost against Wigan and against Barcelona and we needed to win today. Playing with one player less was very difficult.
"It was a good performance because we defended well with the ball and without the ball, and we also had three good chances to score. It was a very professional response from the players."
Goals from David Silva in the first half and Edin Dzeko in the final minute gave City the points which Pellegrini hopes will contribute to the club reclaiming the title they won in 2011-2012 but relinquished to city rivals United last season.
The Chilean had a minor grumble about the consistency of the refereeing but said the red card shown to his captain Vincent Kompany in the 10th minute for hauling down Hull striker Nikica Jelavic was beyond dispute.
"I don't want to talk about the referee. We won the game and we played very well," Pellegrini added.
"Unfortunately it's three weeks since we played in the Premier League so the other teams won their points and we have three games in hand. That why it was so important to win the three points today."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)