Carlo Ancelotti ruled out the prospect of Chelsea producing a sensational late comeback in the Barclays Premier League title race despite watching them complete a remarkable turnaround to beat Manchester United.
The Blues won a highly-controversial game at Stamford Bridge, denting United's bid to deposing them as champions and keeping their own paper-thin hopes of retaining their crown alive. But the 2-1 victory was too little, too late as far as manager Ancelotti was concerned as he claimed Champions League qualification was now the only realistic target for Chelsea.
"We are too far from Manchester United," said Ancelotti, whose side are now fourth in the table, 12 points adrift of United with a game in hand.
"It's difficult for them to lose points in the next few games. We have to concentrate on ourselves and look not too far in the future.
"I cannot believe we are this far behind, but we have to be honest.
"This is where we are in the table, and United have played with more consistency than us."
Chelsea could close the gap to nine points if United lose at Liverpool on Sunday and they win at Blackpool the following evening.
And with a trip to Old Trafford to come and Sir Alex Ferguson's men also yet to visit Arsenal, there is still the tiniest glimmer of hope for the faltering champions.
Midfielder Frank Lampard, who netted the winner with a controversial penalty, said on Sky Sports: "We just had to win the game, close the gap and send out a signal that we're still fighting.
"There's still a long way to go - Manchester United are still deservedly top of the league at the moment."