David Moyes praised his illness-depleted West Ham United team for their defensive resilience and work-rate, but was less impressed with their attacking play in Wednesday's 3-0 Premier League defeat at Manchester City.
The Hammers lost Declan Rice, Nayef Aguerd and Tomáš Souček to illness only hours before kick-off, but battled resolutely at Etihad Stadium to keep the match goalless at the break.
Pep Guardiola's title-chasers were largely limited to speculative efforts from the hard-working Irons, save for Rodri's shot which came back off the inside of the post, before the interval, but went ahead within five minutes of the restart.
The opening goal frustrated Moyes as Nathan Aké lost his man to head in a free-kick at the far post, and the manager's mood will not have been improved by the sight of Vladimír Coufal being replaced after suffering an injury.
Erling Haaland then broke the single-season scoring record after a loose pass in midfield allowed Jack Grealish to play in the prolific Norwegian, before Phil Foden's late volley from another set piece deflected in off Emerson.
It was a chastening end to a difficult day for Moyes and his squad, who must now recover, regroup and go again in four vital Premier League fixtures with Manchester United, Brentford, Leeds United and Leicester City in their bid to stay up.
We played really well tonight at times without the ball.
We didn’t play particularly well with the ball, and we need to do better. But against teams like this and the position we are in we have got to be hard to beat and for a long period, we were. We were well organised, and the players did a really good job and limited them to a few things.
They got a bit unlucky with the shot that hits the inside of the post, and we got a bit lucky that it didn’t go in before half-time.
But overall, I thought we earned [that luck]. We had worked for it. And the big disappointing thing is that [we conceded the first] goal from a set-piece which is a problem. But we had lost some of the lads who would be more reliable aerially and we were always short tonight in that department, and it ended up being the case for the first goal.
Manchester City beat Arsenal by four goals, and they beat Bayern Munich by a few goals.
So, we did a job but obviously, I was still hoping we could have found a way of getting more chances and more goals but while that was the case, we had to make sure we were doing the job and we did not do the job well enough from set-pieces.
We gave away a terrible ball in the middle of the pitch which led to their second goal.
And it was really the only time that the pitch got opened up for [Erling] Haaland to run at goal and get in those spaces. And they found a pass and he found a finish. And that was disappointing.
The third goal was a shot, and it was a deflection, so I think the result was right, they were the better team, but I am not sure the [number of] goals were fair on us at the end of the day.
I am much happier tonight than I was at the weekend [at Crystal Palace].
Without the ball we were good, but I am not too sure we were that good with it. But without the ball we were okay. And the illnesses meant a late call [of personnel], but I am glad that we have shown that there are other boys in the squad who can do a job and came here and did a pretty good job too. It was not enough to win but I think a lot of them did good tonight.
We have to get the points to be a Premier League team.
It doesn’t matter [what everybody else is doing] we have to look after ourselves. Try and win the games. The next game is really important that is the way it is at the moment.
We have got a huge three or four weeks to go.
And let’s hope that we can find a way to get the goals. Tonight, we couldn’t get the goals, but we did a lot of good things. And we have got to try and marry [an offensive and defensive] performance together and hope that we can come up with a result in the next couple of games.