Vincent Kompany, the Manchester City captain, praised his team for their patience in grinding out a 2-0 Premier League victory over Everton.
Goals from second-half substitutes Mario Balotelli and James Milner sent City top of the table - for a couple of hours at least - after the Toffees had proved tough to break down for the first 67 minutes at the Etihad Stadium.
Kompany told Sky Sports 2: "We have never had an easy game against Everton. I thought defensively we looked good today and we're really happy with the performance.
"We didn't let ourselves get surprised. Sometimes it's just a matter of patience and the goals will come.
"We have played maybe one bad 45 minutes in the whole of the league - against Fulham away. Today we didn't maybe impress but we did what we had to do."
The Belgium defender had special words for man of the match David Silva, who hit the post, had a goal disallowed for offside and set up the clinching goal for Milner with a brilliant through-ball.
Kompany said of the Spain midfielder: "He's nowhere near as good on the pitch as he is in the dressing room. He's a great character to have around the team."
City manager Roberto Mancini was pleased with how his side closed out the game after having surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Fulham last weekend.
"I think when we were 2-0 up at Fulham we finished playing for 15 minutes. We thought it was finished. We were also unlucky," he said on Sky Sports 2.
"Everton is a good team. It was really difficult. It was hard to win this game. We had a lot of shots and we were unlucky in the first half. The second half we got better."
Asked why he opted to send Balotelli on from the bench instead of Carlos Tevez, Mancini revealed the decision had been made with an eye on Tuesday's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.
He said: "Mario can play next Tuesday in Munich so it was for this reason and also because Mario trained very well in the last four to five weeks. He deserved to play."
Five visiting players were booked - Jack Rodwell, Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Tim Cahill and Phil Jagielka – but Everton manager David Moyes insisted his side had not been overly physical.
He said: "You have to be very careful and disciplined. We didn't go out to get yellow cards. We went out to make it hard for Manchester City and for long periods of the game we did.
"We've seen other teams getting beat heavily by Manchester City -we wanted to make sure that wasn't the case and I thought for long spells we did a good job."
Moyes was far from happy with some of the challenges that were flying in on his players.
"Some? Yeah," he said. "There was a couple of similarities in a few of the challenges - you'd expect consistency and you'd expect it to be done correctly."
Asked particularly about Kompany's tackle which injured Cahill, he replied: "I think you should be looking at that challenge instead of asking me about the other tackles."