Manchester City assistant boss David Platt felt David Silva's double in the champions' comfortable 2-0 victory over Fulham was just reward for his recent form.
The Spain playmaker struck in the second minute at the Etihad Stadium and added a sublime chip 21 minutes from time as City moved within four points of Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United. The 27-year-old could have had a hat-trick but rolled a shot narrowly wide of the far post just moments after scoring his second.
Platt said: "Last year he had a few more goals under his belt but we know how important he is whether he is scoring goals or not. I think his performances have been right up there."
He added: "I think it would be harsh to say it has been lacking. He is in the team for all sorts of different reasons, not just his goalscoring ability. I think his performances of late have deserved goals. I am pleased he got the two and he should have had a third."
City finished the game strongly after Silva doubled the lead and could have won more comfortably, but Platt felt the hosts were not at their best.
He said: "We scored after 90 seconds and you think that should settle us. But we didn't really get going at full throttle in the first half. In the second half we were better."
City hope the win will put title rivals United under some pressure ahead of their tricky game at Tottenham on Sunday, and Platt said: "We have got 15 (games) left. Both teams will drop points, I am sure. We have got to make sure we keep getting victories so if United slip up we are in a position to take advantage of that."
Fulham hit the post through Steve Sidwell but struggled to create meaningful chances throughout. Despite that they did frustrate City for periods with their patient play and manager Martin Jol felt the Cottagers missed an opportunity to hurt the champions.
He said: "You are fearful - we were very concerned because if you concede a goal after one-and-a-half minutes, you really fear for a bad game, a bad afternoon.
"But it wasn't, we did okay. If you consider they scored the second goal in the 69th minute, we could have hurt them."
Updated 20/01/2013 08:17:00