Manager Nick Cushing dedicated Man City Women’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea to the city of Manchester.
The Blues claimed a crucial victory in the Spring Series title race, thanks to Toni Duggan’s strike, but the evening was overshadowed by the tragic events earlier in the week.
Reflecting on the triumph, Cushing was proud of both his players and supporters, who paid wonderful respect throughout and showed their love for the city.
Both sets of teams wore special tribute shirts during the warm-up, before a minute silence was well-observed by all prior to kick-off.
Supporters rose to applaud on the 22nd minute in memory of the lives lost in Monday’s events, which Cushing described as a touching moment.
He declared: “You’ve seen throughout this week the unity the city has.
“Tonight was all about us getting on that pitch and showing the pride we have for this city and the support we have for all those families involved.
“Our fans, just like the people of Manchester, are exceptional people.
“In this moment, we are all together and it was an exceptional moment from our fans in the 22nd minute.
“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with all the families involved.”
The City boss admitted the game took a back seat in the grand scheme of things. However, he added his side had a job to do and was proud of the victory.
He continued: “We watched Manchester United last night do their job and they showed the unity and passion to show that this City is United.
“We said the same to our players today that’s what we wanted and we got that.
“In terms of the game itself, our tank became empty on around the 60-minute mark so we made the two substitutions to spark our offensive play.
“I don’t think we were at our best in possession – we didn’t control the game – but we had a real determination, desire and will to win.”
City showed great defensive resilience in the second half, with Karen Bardsley making a succession of vital saves while Lucy Bronze cleared an effort off the line late on.
Cushing hailed his side’s defensive solidarity.
Victory leapfrogs City above Chelsea in the Spring Series standings but Cushing’s side don’t have long to recharge the batteries, returning to action in just three days’ time in another huge game against Arsenal.
The tight fixture turnaround is something the City players are used to, explained the manager.
“There’s no point moaning about the fixtures,” he concluded. “Our players are off to a tournament in four weeks where they’ll have to play every three days so they are used to this.
“We’ll have a day off tomorrow and we’ll be prepared for Sunday – whatever physical state our players are in.
“Arsenal have had a bigger rest than us. They’ll know we’ve played a lot of football.
“I expect the same game as when they played Chelsea: a highly intense game, in which they will press us from the front but that’s the type of game we create ourselves.
“We’ll give it our best shot because this club is obsessed with winning.”