Kevin De Bruyne is adamant Manchester City can cope with the intense pressure of battling with Liverpool in the Premier League title race.
City survived a tense first half to beat Brighton 3-0 with three goals after the interval at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
De Bruyne was the catalyst as his rampaging run and pass set up Riyad Mahrez for City’s opener.
The victory moved Pep Guardiola’s side one point clear of second-placed Liverpool with six games left.
It was the ideal response to Liverpool’s thrashing of Manchester United the previous evening, as well as the Reds’ win over City in the FA Cup semifinals last weekend.
Belgium midfielder De Bruyne believes the way City saw off stubborn Brighton proves they can handle stress of the title run-in.
“Maybe there were nerves with the supporters but I felt we were doing all right,” De Bruyne said.
“Obviously it’s hard because everybody’s under pressure. We weren’t disturbed by the pressure, I would say.
“In the second half, when you score the first two goals it makes it easier and I think we did OK.”
De Bruyne, back in the side after missing the FA Cup semifinal with a foot injury, also teed up City’s third goal for Bernardo Silva after Phil Foden had doubled the lead.
The 30-year-old is enjoying a well-timed run of form having also scored important goals in recent games against Burnley, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.
“I’m maybe not the loudest but I try to play the way I play and I think I have a lot of passion and drive when I’m in my actions,” he said.
“I think I can help drive the team forward and I don’t have to be different in any way because I think this is my best way to give something to the team.”
City host Watford this weekend before turning their attention to next week’s Champions League semifinal first leg against Real Madrid.
Guardiola’s men reached the last four after hanging onto a 1-0 aggregate advantage with a gritty goalless draw in a fractious clash with Atletico Madrid.
“Sometimes you have these games where it wasn’t a football game in the end,” De Bruyne said.
“We had to cope with the circumstances and we were a little bit lucky with it sometimes, but sometimes it goes that way.
“There’s going to be hard moments because every team has a lot of quality and I don’t expect anything different against (Real) Madrid because the quality is there.”