Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said Newcastle United did not want to play in the Premier League leaders' 1-0 victory on Wednesday.
The visitors dominated proceedings at St. James' Park but Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game after 31 minutes, with City hitting the woodwork three times in total as they failed to make their superiority count.
Newcastle offered some threat of a late comeback but otherwise defended remarkably deep in a match in which they had only 22 per cent of the possession.
Guardiola was a little unhappy not to have had the points secured before the hosts at last began to push forward but was thrilled that his players found a way to pick apart their defence en route to an 18th successive victory.
359 - Manchester City completed 359 more passes than Newcastle United in the first half. Control. December 27, 2017
"We did absolutely everything but it is difficult to play when the other team doesn't want to play," he told BBC Sport.
"In the last minutes, we played in their rhythm, and then it was not easy because it is not over at 1-0. We created enough chances to win 2-0, 3-0, 4-0.
"Always you have to expect this kind of situation and it is not always easy to maintain that level. But we have more points and we are now 15 in front and we can now focus on our next game.
"Any manager can decide what he wants. I prefer to try to play but I respect a lot what opponents do and we have to try to discover how to attack against them."
He added of Sterling, who has now scored 13 goals this season in the top flight: "Raheem Sterling is scoring a lot and is playing good, so we are happy with that."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.