Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill had nothing but praise for his players even after their top-four dreams were ended by a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City.
The chances of Villa being in next season's Champions League looked good when they took a 16th-minute lead thanks to John Carew's goal, but two quick-fire City goals just before half-time ultimately proved to be crucial.
Carlos Tevez equalised with a penalty and, after Carew had hit the crossbar, City went straight down to the other end of the pitch where Emmanuel Adebayor put them ahead.
After a tight second period, Craig Bellamy sealed City's win with a late third goal, but after the game O'Neill said: "Until the penalty just before half-time we were in command.
"We were playing exceptionally well and were able to take any pressure off us and looked very, very dangerous at times. We got our goal and Stewart Downing went close with a shot that flew a whisker past the post.
"Then we conceded the penalty and we've gone down the field and hit the crossbar and then seconds later they've scored a second goal which proved to be the pivotal moment.
"It was a fantastic effort from the players. We exerted pressure and we looked a very decent side and I'm really disappointed for the players."