Jurgen Klopp hailed a deserved win and defensive resilience as his Liverpool side saw off Manchester City 1-0 at Anfield.
Georginio Wijnaldum headed the only goal after eight minutes to settle a game of few chances, largely short of the attacking verve expected from two of the Premier League's most free-scoring outfits.
Liverpool remain six points behind leaders Chelsea, while City face a daunting 10-point deficit at the midway point of the season, and Klopp was keen to credit his team's less-celebrated defensive work after 90 minutes where goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was seldom tested.
He told BBC Match of the Day: "It was difficult and they are really strong. We couldn't create many chances. We defended really well. They are so good in possession.
"We scored a really good goal and probably had the best chances - two counter-attacks in the first half where we made the wrong decisions.
"In the second half we gave the ball away in situations where nobody expected but we defended really well. I don't know a lot of real chances for them.
"It was a close game and intense game but we deserved to win."
Mignolet now has three clean sheets to his name in four matches since regaining the number-one spot from Loris Karius and Klopp believes his often-criticised backline should be reappraised.
"I know everyone talks about our defence. For me it is not just about avoiding goals but how you work together," he explained.
"In the whole league we have conceded the smallest amount of shots on our goal.
"It is another stage in our development. The concentration level was outstanding. We were clearer in our situation.
"Criticism of our defence makes no sense. If you pick out goals and say 'that's no good'... that's how goals are!"
Four wins in succession will do little to quell enthusiasm over a title bid at Anfield, but Klopp looked to temper expectations.
"Unfortunately I am too long in the business to know it all can happen," he added. "We have a very difficult game in two days against Sunderland
"I don't care when [the winning run] stops but we need to be ready for the next fight and we will be."