Manchester United cannot drop points to sides such as Aston Villa if they are to challenge for the Premier League, according to manager Louis van Gaal.
His side could only draw against 10 men at Villa Park, leaving them seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
"When you want to be a part of the title race, you have to win these games," said Van Gaal.
"I saw Manchester City's first half against Crystal Palace, they struggled but 3-0, that is the difference."
After the draw at Villa - earned with Radamel Falcao's second-half equaliser - captain Wayne Rooney told reporters it was only the media talking about a United title challenge.
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Van Gaal himself had been coy on hopes of a 21st league crown after victory over Liverpool last weekend, a sixth successive win that lifted them to third in the table.
But they could not equal the seven-game winning sequence achieved on their way to the title under Sir Alex Ferguson early in 2013, despite facing 10 men for over 25 minutes in the Midlands.
"We dropped two points," added Van Gaal. "We were the better team and that's frustrating when you're the better team and you don't win these kind of games."
United fell behind to a smart Christian Benteke strike having dominated possession and ended the game with 65% of the ball overall.
Despite the dismissal of Gabriel Agbonlahor for a heavy challenge on ex-Villa winger Ashley Young, they were unable to turn possession and territory into a winner.
Van Gaal added: "We kept the ball well in the first half but we did nothing with the ball. You have to be creative and effective with the ball - we didn't do that."