Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City kept their title defence alive by beating Liverpool.
The champions cut the gap on the Premier League leaders to four points with a tense 2-1 win in a frantic clash at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.
Liverpool, who were unbeaten and could have gone 10 points clear with victory, had gone into the game as favourites after winning their previous nine matches.
It was a final for us because lose today and it was almost over. Win today and we are (still) there. Now it is tight againPep Guardiola
City manager Guardiola said: “We reduced the gap but still they are top of the table, still they are four points (ahead).
“But it is enough points to be calm and it is a good moment to congratulate and say thank you to these incredible players.
“Today they showed everybody how good they are, against an incredible team. It was a good spectacle and both teams played to win.
“It was a final for us because lose today and it was almost over. Win today and we are (still) there. Now it is tight again. We will see what happens in the future but now we rest and relax.”
Leroy Sane settled the contest in the 72nd minute, eight minutes after Roberto Firmino had cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s superb first-half opener.
Liverpool, however, had other close chances, most notably when Sadio Mane hit the post and John Stones’ clearance cannoned back towards goal, only to be cleared off the line 11 millimetres short – according to goalline technology – of going in.
The Reds also argued that City captain Vincent Kompany could have been sent off for a late challenge on Mohamed Salah.
Guardiola said: “The decision of the referee you have to ask to the referee. I understand here you can be banned even if you speak quite well about the referee.”
Kompany, who has won three Premier League titles with City, hailed the character of the team.
The defender told Sky Sports: “I’m not even worried about the result. I’m buzzing after a tremendous performance.
“We went toe to toe with a very physical and aggressive team and we matched them for everything, if not more. It is still in Liverpool’s hands but our performance was beyond anything else I’ve ever witnessed.
“It came from the guts. The 12th man is more than just the fans, it’s something from within and it made us a better team.”