Pep Guardiola insists he had no intention of branding Sadio Mane a diver and said rivals Liverpool are not "lucky" due to their habit of late goals.
The Manchester City boss accused Mane of going to ground too easily after the Senegal international was booked for simulation before scoring a last-minute winner against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Guardiola described his comments, which have annoyed Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, as recognition of their Premier League rivals' relentless determination.
He also made reference to a disputed penalty last month when Mane was adjudged to have been brought down by Leicester's Marc Albrighton in injury-time at Anfield.
Speaking at a pre-match news conference before City's Champions League group game against Atalanta on Wednesday, Guardiola said: "Sometimes at 94 minutes against Leicester with the penalty it was like 'wow'.
"It was far from my intention to say that Sadio Mane is that type of player because I admire him a lot.
"For Jurgen it was a penalty, for the referee it was a penalty and VAR it was a penalty. Maybe I was wrong, or not, to think it was [maybe not] a penalty.
"Jurgen knows Sadio better than me and I have an incredible respect [for that]. When [Klopp] says he is not like this then it is not like this.
"It was a praise to Liverpool to say it was not just because of one action. [Their late goals] happened many times at Anfield and away because they push and push. That is why it is nice to face them and to try to compete with them."
Live Renault Super Sunday
Liverpool maintained their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a come-from-behind win at Villa Park, with Klopp's side earning a reputation for crucial late goals.
Champions City travel to Anfield to face league leaders Liverpool next in the Premier League on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
"My son and my daughter always, when Liverpool win in the last minutes, ask me how lucky Liverpool are," Guardiola said.
"I tell them they are not. What Liverpool has done this season and last season many times is because they have this incredible quality and talent to fight until the end.
"That's why I said to my players - not just my son and my daughter - that it is not lucky. If it happens once or twice in their life's then OK but it has happened maybe 10 to 13 times."
Pep: I don't put oil in the fire
Klopp responded to Guardiola's criticism of Mane with a dig at City's supposed tactical fouling, which has previously been raised by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini.
But Guardiola, who also refused to respond to Klopp's suggestion he was obsessed by the European champions, was in no mood to respond further and said: "I don't put oil in the fire."
City, who top their Champions League group on maximum points from their opening three games, will qualify for the knockout stages with a win against Atalanta at the San Siro.
Watch Liverpool vs Man City on Super Sunday from 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event; Kick-off 4.30pm.