Pep Guardiola hailed the performance of his Manchester City side, in particular goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, after a thrilling 2-1 victory over rivals United in the Manchester derby.
City dominated the opening 40 minutes and were two goals ahead through strikes from Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho.
But Bravo, making his City debut, dropped a Wayne Rooney free kick late in the first half, which Zlatan Ibrahimovic pounced on to pull a goal back.
Guardiola praised Bravo for the way he recovered from the error and the defenders in front of him who stood firm against United pressure late in the second half.
“What Claudio did was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” Guardiola said. “I like goalkeepers to play in front and after that [Ibrahimovic] goal, he continued playing in our build-up, playing long balls and coming out to pick it up.
“In football, it’s about how you react to mistakes — it shows character. He continued playing. It means a lot.
“The way we train and the way we play has given me a lot of confidence.
“We played good in the first half because of Claudio. I like the keepers to attack the ball and after what happened, in the second half he continued to play and that’s a good thing about his personality. He was one of the reasons we played well in the first half.
“Yeah [if you pass the ball from the back] it can be too risky; if you lose the ball they will score but you can control the game.
“Until my last day in England I will try to play with the ball as much as possible. I know it’s impossible for 90 minutes but I’m sorry, I will not negotiate that.”
United boss Jose Mourinho felt his side should have had two penalties in the second half, when a Rooney cross struck Nicolas Otamendi on the elbow and another for Bravo’s tackle on Rooney after he overran the ball.
Guardiola said he did not see either incident to comment but was full of praise for his backline that coped with an aerial bombardment as United pushed Maroune Fellaini up front alongside Ibrahimovic.
“The first half was really good,” Guardiola said. “The last minute was a fantastic goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“In the second half, we knew they would change the system — they put Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini more in front and they were much stronger.
“We are happy. I think the spectators enjoyed it because it was open until the end. First half we were better — in the second half it was difficult. We had counter-attacks and we didn’t finish.
“These guys have a heart — in the first half we won a lot of duels against a team physically stronger. In the second half, the long balls, you just pray because it’s almost impossible to control that.”