Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta has hailed victory over Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday as a "massive step forward" in their bid for domestic and European success.
City fell behind after 30 minutes when Yevhen Konoplyanka turned in Vitolo's cross, but an own goal seven minutes later and a last-minute strike from £55 million summer signing Kevin De Bruyne gifted the Citizens all three points.
Zabaleta's side now head to Old Trafford on Sunday to face Manchester United in what could be a potential title-decider, with the Argentinian confident of their chances.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
“This was a massive step forward in terms of thinking about the next round and now we have a huge game on Sunday,” Zabaleta told the Manchester Evening News.
“Winning in that way at the end was a massive lift for the team and the fans. It was a fantastic finish from Kevin De Bruyne and a big three points."
City hold advantage over United
Manuel Pellegrini's City side will go into the weekend game with the upper hand, given their recent form and narrow lead over the Red Devils in the title race.
Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal's men are looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw away to CSKA Moscow in Europe.
Zabaleta knows they need to use this momentum, having won 5-1 at home to Bournemouth over the weekend and 6-1 against Newcastle United prior to the international break, to ensure they beat their bitter rivals and open up a gap at the top.
“This was a massive win in terms of confidence – derbies are special games and we have a chance to extend the gap between us and United and Arsenal," Zabaleta continued.
Zabaleta backs De Bruyne
City's match-winner in the Champions League, De Bruyne, has proven his worth following his £55 million move and will play a vital part in the Citizens' starting XI at Old Trafford this weekend, particularly in the absence of Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
Speaking after their win, Zabaleta added: “He (De Bruyne) is doing really well. His performance week in, week out is brilliant. He is a player who has really improved the team, a fantastic signing.
“But he keeps his feet on the ground to just keep helping the team – I hope he can keep on like this."
City have a tough run of fixtures following the derby, hosting Crystal Palace before heading to Sevilla for the return away fixture.