Carlo Ancelotti praised Bayern Munich's persistence after they left it late to secure a 2-0 victory over Bundesliga strugglers Ingolstadt on Saturday.
The league leaders were far from their fluent best at Audi Sportpark and needed goals from Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben after the 90th minute to take all three points.
In the end it was a huge triumph for Ancelotti's side as the other three teams in the top four – RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt – all lost, leaving Bayern seven clear at the summit.
And the significance of their late, late show was not lost on Ancelotti as he reflected on their hard-earned success.
"It was an important victory for us, which we fought hard for," he said.
"We had to improve significantly in the second half and we were able to reward ourselves in the end.
"Ingolstadt were defensively very good, but we knew we could win here. We showed a great character."
In the opposite dugout it was a feeling of so near but yet so far as second-bottom Ingolstadt slipped to a 13th defeat of the campaign, despite more than matching their illustrious opponents for the majority of the match.
"It was very bitter for us because the team defended very well," Ingolstadt boss Maik Walpurgis said.
"We were able to prevent clear chances, but we made too many mistakes in the forward movement.
"Because of our passion we would have deserved a point, so the defeat hurts. But now we have to reward ourselves next week."