Yaya Toure concedes that Manchester City were made to suffer in their hard-fought 2-0 victory over a plucky Sunderland side at the Stadium of Light.
City's individual class made the difference against the Premier League's bottom club with goals either side of half-time from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane keeping City in the hunt for the title and plunging Sunderland ever closer towards relegation.
It could have been different had Jermain Defoe's first-half effort not hit the upright with the game still at 0-0 and Toure acknowledged that City were made to work hard for the three points.
"Sunderland made us suffer in the first half. In the first half they had more corner kicks than us. Against the teams that are fighting it is difficult," Toure told BT Sport after City had closed to within eight points of leaders Chelsea.
"With the quality players we have we started to move the ball about.
"It was quite close and we got lucky. We are very happy with the display."
Team-mate David Silva felt City ultimately could have scored more goals and urged the team to stay focused in their pursuit of honours.
"We had to be patient and find space. In the end we scored two goals and we could have scored more," the Spain international said.
"We have to believe in ourselves. We are going through a good spell. The last three months of the season are the most important part of the season. We are happy with our form and have to keep going.
"It is easy to play with fast wingers like [Raheem] Sterling and Sane and they are scoring goals as well."