The substitute reminded Swansea what they were missing with a late goal as City guaranteed themselves a top-three finish and direct entry into next season’s Champions League with a 4-2 win at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
Yaya Toure and James Milner goals had put Pellegrini’s team in control of this Premier League fixture only for the home side to level up with goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bafetimbi Gomis.
Another Toure strike — again aided by more questionable work from Swans goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski — put City back in control before his Ivorian teammate Bony, signed from Swansea for £28 million ($43 million, 37 million euros) in January, added a goal late on.
It was only Bony’s second goal for City since his mid-season arrival but Pellegrini was confident the striker, who was applauded after his goal by Swansea fans, would be a success at Eastlands.
“He got the reception he deserves. He was very unlucky when we bought him because he started by going to the African Cup Of Nations,” said Pellegrini.
“After that then he had an ankle and knee injury that stopped him for three weeks. Then we won five in a row and I did not want to make changes in this moment.
“… I am absolutely sure we bought the player we need.”
– Beautiful save –
Victory guaranteed deposed Premier League champions City a top-three finish and a place in the group stages of the Champions League, with England’s fourth-placed side having the inconvenience of a qualifying round for Europe’s elite club competition.
But things might have been different on Sunday when, with City having just reclaimed the lead to move 3-2 ahead, Swansea seemed set to equalise via a thumping header from Federico Fernandez only for Joe Hart to pull off a stupendous one-handed reflex save to tip the ball over his crossbar.
“It was incredible,” said Swansea boss Garry Monk. “Ninety-nine times out of 100 that’s a goal but unluckily for us he had an answer to it. He is a world-class goalkeeper.”
City manager Pellegrini added that 28-year-old England international Hart had advanced this season and was “starting to reach his peak.”
“It was a beautiful save in an important moment,” Pellegrini said. “I think that Joe is the No 1 in England. He has improved a lot this season.
“Bringing in Willy Caballero has been good for him as competition,” the Chilean added.
“I think he is starting to reach the peak of his career. It is difficult for a young goalkeeper to be so, so good.
“It is difficult to compare him with all the other goalkeepers. (Chelsea’s Thibaut) Courtois is very good also. In this league we have three or four very good goalkeepers. (Manuel) Neuer at Bayern (Munich) is very important also.
“But Joe understands he must improve. Every day he works hard,” Pellegrini said.