Roberto Mancini admitted that it will be "hard" for Manchester City to win the Premier League title after being held to a 3-3 draw to Sunderland, despite a fightback that saw them claw their way back from 3-1 down in the final 10 minutes.
Mario Balotelli scored his second of the game, before a brilliant long-range effort from Aleksandar Kolarov brought the game level in the dying moments of the game, after goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Sebastian Larsson had given the visitors a two-goal advantage.
The draw means that City’s 100 per cent record at the Etihad this season has came to an end, and City could fall five points behind leaders Manchester United on Monday night if the Red Devils win at Blackburn Rovers.
Mancini concedes it will be hard to catch their local rivals and insists it will be imperative to recover some points come the derby at the end of April.
He told reporters: “It’s hard [to win the title], but it depends on Monday then we have another seven games.
“Like us that we did some mistake in the last game, also for United maybe can arrive at a difficult moment. Before the derby, it’s important that we recover two points.”
On the outcome, the Italian said: “It is the correct result, the draw. I’m happy only for the last 10 minutes, for the other 80 minutes I am unhappy because we didn’t play very well.
“I don’t know why [we are playing bad]. In the first-half we are flat.
“It is normal when you arrive in the end [of the season] you should be tired sometimes, it’s possible. But why we did this in the last 10-15 minutes we should do in the last 15 minutes before.
“We conceded three goals, this is a strange thing, it is unusual that we concede three goals at home.
“I think after this game the confidence will go down, but only for this afternoon, also because [Manchester] United will do a draw, we are always three points behind.”
The 47-year-old was also hounded further about Sergio Aguero’s mystery injury – to which our exclusive reveals how the Argentine suffered the problem – and confirmed that the striker had indeed sprained his ankle.
Asked whether reports about the injury occurring after using a spray for his foot blisters was true, Mancini said: “This is true but not his fault. It’s a sprain.