Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City match-winner Kelechi Iheanacho was one of the reasons he did not buy another striker to replace Edin Dzeko.
Iheanacho was introduced in the 89th minute by Pellegrini on Saturday with City still 0-0 against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, but just 54 seconds later the 18-year-old tapped in a rebound after a Samir Nasri shot to maintain his side’s 100% start to the new Premier League season.
Pellegrini was understandably delighted with the Nigerian’s impact.
“I told him to go on and score a goal!” Pellegrini said.
“He’s just 18 and started working with our squad last season, but he was unlucky and had a big injury in the last three months of the season.
“This year he started pre-season with the squad and will be a very important player for the future. He’s one of the reasons I didn’t bring another striker in when we sold Edin Dzeko. He deserves that chance.”
Until Iheanacho’s intervention City were enduring a frustrating afternoon, having lost key striker Sergio Aguero to a first-half knee injury after a cynical trip by Scott Dann.
The Palace skipper escaped with a yellow card for a tackle which set the tone for a feisty first half as moments later Yaya Toure clattered into James McArthur.
That challenged incensed Eagles boss Alan Pardew, who stormed past Pellegrini and was tugged back by the City manager.
Pardew, of course, has previous with the Chilean following an infamous, foul-mouthed touchline spat when he was in charge at Newcastle two seasons ago. But he was less industrial with his language this time before the minor skirmish ended with a handshake between the rival bosses.
Pellegrini said: “Sometimes you must show the red card immediately because you know the intention of the player, just to make him fall down. I don’t like protesting every decision, like Alan does from the first minute, but that was an important decision.
“He (Pardew) came into my technical zone, complaining about every decision of the referee. I think the referee had made an important mistake but that doesn’t matter, it’s just part of the game.”