Manuel Pellegrini defended Sergio Aguero after the Manchester City striker ended his scoring drought - but missed a golden opportunity against Sunderland.
The Argentine scored from the penalty spot in the 4-1 Capital One Cup win on Tuesday night.
But the 27-year-old - who had gone five games without a goal - still looked short of deadly best at the Stadium of Light, as demonstrated by his miss late in the first half.
Aguero had already missed two good chances before his penalty - and then failed to find the back of the net when rounding Vito Mannone later in the first half.
He uncharacteristically hesitated when through on goal, allowing Sebastian Coates and Deandre Yedlin to clear the danger.
Rather than dwell on that incident Pellegrini was just relieved to see his striker back on the score sheet. "These things happen," said the Chilean. "Maybe he thought the player couldn't cover the goal, but he scored the penalty and he was involved in the other three goals."
Aguero's only other goal this season came in the 3-0 win against Chelsea in August.
Last season's golden boot-winner has just recovered from a knee injury, suffered against Crystal Palace, but has looked short of his best this term.
He also missed two good opportunities in the 2-1 defeat against West Ham last weekend.
Meanwhile, Pellegrini was pleased with the performances of summer signings Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, who were both on the score-sheet against Sunderland.
"Kevin is a very good player and Raheem played very well also," he said. "It is not easy at the beginning to make the correct movements, but both of them demonstrated why they are here."
Ola Toivonen's late consolation did little to ease the mood of gloom on Wearside, but Pellegrini's opposite number Dick Advocaat - whose side sit at the foot of the Premier League table - was buoyed by elements of the Black Cats' performance.
The Dutchman said: "Maybe you think I am negative, but I am negative, but I am not.
"Yes, negative that we lost 4-1, but the way we played in the first 25 minutes, it was very positive."