ROBERTO Mancini remains confident Manchester City can lift the Barclays Premier League after Swansea dealt a severe blow to their title hopes with a 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium.
Luke Moore came off the bench to head the game's only goal seven minutes from time but it was far from a smash-and-grab effort from Brendan Rodgers' men, who dominated for long periods after City goalkeeper Joe Hart saved Scott Sinclair's first-half penalty.
Manchester United's 2-0 victory over West Brom at Old Trafford means their city rivals will go into next weekend off the top of the table for the first time since October 15th.
City could be four points adrift by the time they host Chelsea next Monday, but Mancini feels a second 1-0 defeat in four days, following Thursday evening's Europa League reverse at Sporting Lisbon, does little to alter the overall title picture.
"It's been difficult the last four days for me, but football is this - sometimes you can lose," he said.
"I don't think that we deserved to lose this game. I should say that Swansea played very well in the first 30 minutes. They played very good football.
"But in the second half we had control of the game. We missed three or four chances on the counter-attack and we conceded a stupid goal.
"Now it's important that we are very confident together because it changes nothing. It is better to stay on the top and now we are behind, but this doesn't change our targets."
Mancini went on to state the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on April 30 may well determine the destination of the title.
"I think that this championship maybe will be decided three games from the end," he added.
"The season is long. What's happened today can happen also to United in the next game and we can go again on the top. It will change nothing."
On a wholly unsatisfactory afternoon for City, England midfielder Gareth Barry reacted angrily to being substituted in the first half before Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli were reportedly embroiled in a heated row at the interval.
Mancini claimed he had no knowledge of the Toure and Balotelli incident and was also unaware of the exact nature of an injury he revealed Barry has carried for the past three weeks.
"Gareth has a problem, I don't know what, but for three weeks. Not a big injury, a small problem," he said.
City defender Micah Richards had a late header ruled out for offside before Swansea held out for a deserved win and the manner of their performance delighted Rodgers.
"Sometimes you get results where you take on the big guns of European football when you win the game 1-0 and you're maybe hanging on, but we were the better side," he said.
"In the second half when we scored, I think that was when we showed our maturity tactically. We dropped on our lines and blocked spaces. It was very, very difficult for them to get through us
"Over the course of the game, some of the passing and moving and ball retention against top players was phenomenal.
"We got one goal, we missed a penalty, we could have had one or two more and I think the players deserve every credit that they get for their technical ability in the game, as well as that mentality to want to take on a top team."
The victory moves Swansea onto 36 points and a step closer to ensuring Premier League football next term, but Rodgers does not want any let-up from now until the end of the season.
"I really want to sprint over the finish line," he said.
"We're loving every moment of this journey that we're on. We were well documented as the team everyone fancied to go down.
"But the idea is to finish as strongly as we can and that's why I've never set a target, because when you hit that target then people can become loose.
"We want to maximise our potential and that means pushing until the very end."