Manchester City's Roberto Mancini will not concede title

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport at the Etihad
Mancini backs Hart over penalty foul

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini said his team's was a vital one and has not ruled out hope of catching Manchester United.

Superb goals by Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez, following Frank Lampard's penalty miss, earned City a victory that keeps them 12 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United.

There are only 11 league games left this season, but having won the title in stoppage time last season, the Italian remains positive.

He said: "In football, it's finished when it's finished - in the last minute of the last game.

"If we arrive with four games to go and United are 12 points ahead, it's finished, but our job is to continue to work.

"For us, it's not important to look at the table, only to continue to work like today, to play well and to improve because we can improve. Only this and maybe look at the table in one month."

Asked if a 15-point gap would have been too far to bridge, Mancini replied: "Maybe."

Manchester United have shown few signs of relinquishing their lead and beat bottom-placed QPR on Saturday to open up a 15-point gap before City's win.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side have a favourable run of games in March against teams in the bottom half of the division before facing City on 8 April.

Mancini, though, was content to banish memories of the recent 3-1 loss to Southampton, when a Joe Hart mistake led to defeat at St Mary's.

Hart suffered another scare against Chelsea, bringing down Demba Ba for the spot-kick that he subsequently saved.

Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez said Hart deserved "a yellow card, at least", but Mancini, 48, disagreed.

"I don't think it was a red card," said the Italian, although he criticised Hart and Kolo Toure for conceding the penalty in the first place. "Hart and Kolo Toure both made a mistake, but {the save] was fantastic."

Hart, 25, said he was pleased with the save, particularly after conceding the penalty.

"Lamps is a big hero of mine and it was nice to save it, but I gave it away so I had to," he said.

"It's something I practise a lot with England with him, and he's a great penalty-taker. I just had an idea that was what was going to happen."

Top Stories