Kevin De Bruyne conceded Manchester City "killed the game" to close out the 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach that secured their progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.
David Silva cancelled out Raffael's first-half opener for the hosts on the stroke of the interval, but any advantage City thought they might derive for Lars Stindl's red card, after the Gladbach man clashed with Nicolas Otamendi, was short-lived.
Fernandinho's second booking for the faintest of shirt pulls on Raffael in the 63rd minute preceded the contest petering out, with De Bruyne telling BT Sport this was partly by design as far as City were concerned.
"After we got the red card we just killed the game and that was the most important thing," said the Belgium star, whose team-mates qualify as Group C runners up behind Barcelona.
"It's not nice to see but in the end we are through.
"They are very compact and even before they scored I think they just wanted to defend.
"It was a good goal [by Silva] but a tough first half. We were better in the second half."
Pep Guardiola sent his side out in a 3-2-4-1 formation that did not initially yield the desired results and the City boss continued to cajole his players and switch their positions throughout.
"This is the football we want to play," midfielder Ilkay Gundogan told BT Sport.
"We always try to react and if we recognise something is not going well we try to change and do our best.
"It was sometimes necessary today to control the game. The result was the most important thing."