Roberto Mancini says Manchester City rode their luck after Sergio Aguero's late winner gave them a 2-1 Champions League victory against Villarreal.
City looked on course for their third group game without a victory until the substitute scored with what turned out to be virtually the last kick.
Mancini said: "We were lucky because you need luck to score in the last seconds but we deserved to win."
City face Villarreal and Napoli away before playing Bayern Munich at home.
Mancini believes the return to his home country and the meeting with Napoli holds the key to City's fate in the Champions League as they lie third in Group A behind Bayern Munich and the Italians.
The former Inter Milan coach added: "This game will be very important - 100%. We play Villarreal before Napoli. It will be a crucial game in Italy but I don't know for which position in the group. It is still open for the first or second place.
"I hope Sergio's goal will prove to be very important for us. It was really important to win our first game in the Champions League.
"At this moment everything can happen in the group but we also know when we go to Villarreal in 15 days it will be a hard game because they are a very good team who played really well."
Mancini replaced Adam Johnson with Gareth Barry for tactical reasons just before half-time, a decision that left the England winger registering his obvious disappointment as he went off shaking his head.
But Mancini, who had to deal with Edin Dzeko's dissent when he was taken off and the Carlos Tevez affair in the defeat against Bayern Munich in Germany, revealed he had spoken to Johnson to explain the move and there was no problem between the pair.
"We were conceding four or five counter-attacks," Mancini explained.
"We needed to have more players in the middle and I wanted to move Yaya Toure behind Edin Dzeko. It was not because Adam was playing badly, he was playing very well, but it was a tactical decision.
"I spoke with him and he understands this. Sometimes every manager takes these decisions or feels the team needs a tactical substitution and unfortunately a player has to leave the pitch.
"I can understand every player leaving the pitch after only 38 minutes is unhappy but Adam is an important player for us."
Villarreal's players lodged furious protests after the final whistle after they were denied a point.
Coach Juan Carlos Garrido said: "The players thought the winning goal was offside but it was not. It was in the last minute and it is sometimes difficult to stay cool."