Football

Pellegrini admits confidence crisis but remains unfazed

QPR 2

(Charlie Austin 21, Martin Demichelis 76-og)

MAN CITY 2

(Sergio Aguero 32, 83)

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he is unfazed by the champions trailing Chelsea by eight points in the English Premier League after being held to a 2-2 draw at Queens Park Rangers yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Sergio Aguero saved City further embarrassment after their Champions League loss to CSKA Moscow with a double at Loftus Road, cancelling out Charlie Austin's opener and Martin Demichelis' own goal as the visitors twice came from behind.

"I'm not thinking about Chelsea," Pellegrini said.

"I'm thinking about my team. We have 27 games more and the championship is very long.

"For the moment, it's difficult to say it was two points lost because we came less than 72 hours (after Wednesday's Champions League match), (in a) very difficult moment.

"The way the game was during the 90 minutes, we deserved at least a draw. We had more chances to score.

"Of course I wanted the win, but if you can't win it, it's better not to lose."

Pellegrini admitted the champions were in the midst of a crisis of confidence following their latest European defeat and QPR seemed determined to increase City's misery.

Without injured talisman Vincent Kompany, City's defence was a shambles as Eliaquim Mangala was exposed time and time again.

Asked about City's confidence now, Pellegrini said: "Absolutely the same.

"There can be a lot of criticism of the team and the way we are playing, but not of the way we are working or the character and personality we have.

"It was a difficult test. We didn't play our best game, but we still had four or five clear chances before they scored their second goal.

"We didn't, but we continued to fight till the last minute to try to win. It was not our best performance in defence. We must improve, but I don't divide the team in defending or attacking. We must improve generally."

QPR boss Harry Redknapp described Aguero as the EPL's best and Pellegrini admitted his side must match the Argentinian's efforts as a collective.

"At the moment, he's a very important player for us," Pellegrini added.

"He needs the whole performance of the team to grow again. A lot of offensive play. I am sure this will happen after the international break."

Austin scored the opening goal after finding the City net for the third time after 21 minutes.

TWO OFFSIDE EFFORTS

He had two strikes ruled out, firstly after heading in while offside.

Then City goalkeeper Joe Hart kicked the ball twice, firstly with his standing foot, before the striker scored. Referee Mike Dean correctly ruled out the effort.

"No one seemed to realise what it was for," Redknapp said.

"I didn't realise he had two touches. I thought he'd just mis-kicked it straight to Charlie."

Austin's strike was his fourth in three games and his sixth of the season and came in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson.

Redknapp would not champion the former non-League player's international hopes just yet, though.

"Charlie's improving," the QPR boss said. "I saw the other day Harry Kane for England. Harry's a good player, but he's not in the Tottenham team.

"Maybe a few years ago, you had to be playing in the team every week for a long period.

"I love Charlie. No one's a bigger fan than me. There's no way that, if he keeps improving as he is, he can't go on and play for England one day.

"(But) he's had only a handful of games in the Premier League and it would be nonsense for me to (push him for England)."

Aguero was the standout player, but City were by far second best to a much improved QPR.

"I'm disappointed," Redknapp said.

"We worked hard enough and played well enough to have won. I thought they were on the ropes at 1-0, got the equaliser out of nothing. I'd thought when we went 2-1 up, we would go on and win.

"We've played very well, last four games. We've deserved more than the four points we've picked up." - PA Sport.