Relieved Hull City boss Steve Bruce praised the way his side are living up to their expectations after their 2-0 win at in-form Brentford.
Goals from Andrew Robertson and a late Sam Clucas tap-in sealed the points that ended the Bees four-game winning streak and stretched Hull’s unbeaten run to nine.
“Being top of the league has its own expectations,” said Bruce. “We are a big scalp as the bloke behind kept reminding me, but we are living up to it.
“It was never going to be easy and Brentford were the better team in the first half, so we really had to show our mettle.
“It’s never easy to come here with the crowd behind them and Lee Carsley has them up and at you.”
The Bees dominated for long spells in the first half, harrying the visitors out of their stride and breaking the Tigers’ rhythm.
Bruce said: “We needed to move the ball and pass it better in the second half for the quality to show through. After we made the breakthrough we had two or three opportunities to get a second but didn’t take them.
“That meant we had to dig in and show our mettle and that’s exactly what you need to do to get out of this league.”
Brentford, fresh from a historic derby win over QPR, matched Hull for 70 minutes of the game, but head coach Lee Carsley conceded the Premier League quality told in the end.
“The first half was really good and we stood toe to toe with a side packed full of Premier league quality. We had three or four opportunities but didn’t take them and you have to against a side like that,” he said.
“Hull got better and stronger as the game went on, but when you look at players like (Tom) Huddlestone, (Mohamed) Diame and (Harry) Maguire coming off the bench that’s hardly surprising.”
Carsley said his side’s first-half display meant there were more positives than usual from a defeat, and added: “This was a speed bump rather than being a brick wall.
“We always struggled after playing in a derby at Everton because you come down off the emotion of it all, but our first-half performance didn’t show that.”
And he was delighted with the compliment paid to his side by Hull: “It was a massive pat on the back to us that they showed us respect by dropping back and letting us have the ball because they knew we’d pass through them if not.
“We have to be realistic and remember that we have come a very long way in a very short space of time, but this is the benchmark we have to hit to have more games like this.”
Meanwhile, Bruce insisted: “We have had a good run but it doesn’t matter - we are there or thereabouts and we are on target. We have set a ferocious pace but every time we win everyone else keeps winning - but so far so good.”