Roberto Mancini admitted an early red card for Laurent Koscielny made the difference as Manchester City beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Koscielny was sent off after just ten minutes for wrestling Edin Dzeko to the ground inside the box, but Wojciech Szczesny saved the Bosnian’s penalty.
James Milner gave City the lead ten minutes later and Dzeko tapped in on the half hour mark to double the visitors’ lead, leaving Mancini satisfied.
“We started the game well with a good attitude, but the sending off made a difference,” said Mancini.
“It was a good result for us because to play here is always difficult. Arsenal are a really strong team.”
The Italian boss was disappointed with the way his side failed to kick on in the second half and capitalise on their numerical advantage.
City captain Vincent Kompany also saw red for a tackle on Jack Wilshere with 15 minutes to go.
But Mancini slammed referee Mike Dean’s decision to dismiss Kompany, who was visibly distressed with the decision, and promised to appeal.
“Second half we were too soft and I thought the game could re-open,” he said.
“It was also not a sending off for Vincent Kompany as he took the ball with one foot.
“It is not a red card, absolutely not. The referee made a mistake there but it was a red card for Koscielny.”
The win brings City back within seven points of table-toppers Manchester United, after they beat Liverpool earlier in the day.
And with struggling Fulham and bottom club QPR up next, Mancini will be looking to reduce the deficit as soon as possible.
Mancini added: “We know Manchester United are very strong, but the season is long and we need to continue to work.”
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