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Mancini insists title race is not over after gutsy display

Monday, 25 February 2013 - 8:31am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph

Roberto Mancini said his Manchester City side proved they were in no mood to concede the title without a fight after yesterday's impressive win over Chelsea.

Roberto Mancini said his Manchester City side proved they were in no mood to concede the title without a fight after yesterday's impressive win over Chelsea.

The Manchester City manager had Joe Hart to thank for a crucial second half penalty save to deny Frank Lampard, but overall his team outplayed the visitors in their 2-0 win.

Outstanding goals from Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez reduced the gap to Manchester United to 12 points and - perhaps more significantly given the state of the league table - extended the lead over Chelsea to seven.

Rafa Benitez's side arrived in Manchester hoping to cut the deficit to City to a point. By the end he was admitting his side is looking over its shoulder to preserve top-four status.

City's eyes remains on an unlikely United slip-up. "We can't think that it's finished with 11 games to go," said Mancini.

"It's not my mentality or my players' mentality and we need to play like this. Both goals were fantastic. For us it's not important to look at the table. It is important just to continue to work like today and improve. We deserved to win because we played well. Maybe we could have scored more goals."

The post-match debate focused on Hart's intervention to deny Lampard his 200th Chelsea goal. Benitez suggested Hart should have been punished with the minimum of a yellow card. Mancini said referee Andre Marriner made the right call.

"Obviously the penalty save was important because the game could have changed there, but we were playing well and could still have scored more in the last 40 minutes if needed," said Mancini.

"I don't think it was a card because the ball was going out. I think Joe is the best keeper in England and one of the best in Europe but a goalkeeper like him can do better with the long ball [which led to the penalty]. He could be perfect - it's important to have concentration always. But after the mistake he was fantastic."

Benitez said Marriner was lenient. "I have not seen the replay but it was at least a yellow card," said Benitez. "It's a clear chance and it could have been at least a yellow. That was a turning point.

"We didn't do well in the first half but we got to half-time 0-0. We wanted to keep the ball better and show character and then we have the penalty so it was crucial moment in game. It was a good penalty and a good save, so credit to Hart."

Benitez made several changes to his line-up, citing the trio of demands in the league, FA Cup and Europa League when quizzed on his team selection and substitutions.

"We play a game every three days," he said. "It's simple to explain. We are playing too many games, every three days, and have some fresh legs we can use. I brought on Moses and Oscar, two offensive players.

"Always when you lose you have to be disappointed. It was important because we could have been closer to them and now we have to carry on and fight for the top four. Now we still have to do our job because Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are close."

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