Football: Manchester City's spirit and belief are back, says Pellegrini

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed his team's spirit and belief after Saturday's 3-2 win over Aston Villa and said those qualities had been lacking in recent Premier League games.

The champions let slip a two-goal lead, given them by Sergio Aguero and Aleksandar Kolarov, as Villa pegged the hosts back with second-half strikes from Tom Cleverley and Carlos Sanchez.

Fernandinho then stabbed home the winner in the 89th minute to save City's blushes and help them leapfrog Arsenal and Manchester United into second place.

It was a cruel blow for Villa, who had enjoyed the lion's share of possession, and Pellegrini said it was the result and not the performance that mattered.

"Today we didn't play as well but we had the spirit and fight to win in the last five minutes despite their late equaliser," the Chilean told the BBC.

"The results are always more important than the performances but I think we normally play well. Today, we showed the spirit and the belief that perhaps we have not had in other games when we have had more possession.

"I was not satisfied with the way we played today but sometimes you need different things to win games."

Runaway leaders Chelsea will be crowned champions if they win their next two matches, at Arsenal on Sunday and at Leicester City on Wednesday.