Manuel Pellegrini insisted that qualification for the Champions League knockout stages remains the club’s aim, but admitted that his side cannot repeat this performance in the final two group stage games.
While the boss is determined that his side will not give up, he revealed at his post-match press conference that he was disappointed with the display against the Russian outfit.
Pellegrini declared:“If you have a mathematical chance to qualify you must try for it. We will see. First we must try to beat QPR, then we have an international break and after that of course will try to qualify for the next stage.
“It is more difficult but not impossible.”
It was a controversial night at the Etihad as Fernandinho appeared harshly dismissed for a second yellow card, while Sergio Aguero claimed two penalties near the end – both appeals waived away by the Greek official.
However, Pellegrini refused to look to the referee as the reason for the defeat, and instead said that his players’ performance was not good enough.
“In this game the difference was not just the referee’s mistakes,” said the Chilean. “We cannot play in the way we played today if we want to win.
“I don’t want to have any excuses about the way we played and I don’t want to link the referee with the result.”
He added: “It is difficult to understand why we played such a low performance today.
"We had just played a good game against Manchester United and we had a chance to win here at home playing our normal way, but if you give two easy goals in the first half and you don’t play well with the ball it is very difficult to win.
“We must try to find out what happened with this team in the Champions League.
“All of them are important players so I don’t understand why they cannot play in the Champions League, but we must review a lot of things to understand why it was such a low performance.”
Questioned about CSKA’s display, Pellegrini showed plenty of respect for the team from Moscow, but believed that his players made it too easy for the opposition.
The manager explained: “CSKA are a good team, that is why they are the champions of Russia. If you give a good team so many advantages during the game, especially the two easy goals, it is easy for good players.”
Captain Vincent Kompany appeared in some discomfort as he left the field at the full time whistle, but Pellegrini said he will have to wait until the morning to assess any potential problem.
Said Manuel: “We will see how Vincent Kompany is tomorrow. I don’t know at the moment whether it was just a kick or something more. We will see tomorrow.”