RAFA BENITEZ pointed to the penalty that got away as the reason why his team ultimately lost Sunday's absorbing FA Cup semi-final.
Chelsea battled back well from going 2-0 down at the start of the second half at Wembley and when Demba Ba became the first player to score against Man City in this season's competition, hopes were high of a recovery.
But the Blues could not quite force a second and were left frustrated when sub Fernando Torres (pictured) tussled with Vincent Kompany for a through ball and appeared to be impeded.
The failure of ref Chris Foy to award a spot-kick was even more upsetting for Benitez than an earlier incident when City's Sergio Aguero – scorer of the second goal – crudely planted a pair of studs into David Luiz's thigh.
“I don't like to point at players in this kind of situation,” said the Chelsea boss.
“I think it's not my job now. I was disappointed at that moment, but you have officials to make decisions.
“For me, it's more important the penalty not given, because of the timing, the consequences could be a red card and a goal for us, which could change the game.
“To me it was a clear penalty. I have seen the pictures and Torres has the shirt pulled.
“You have to give credit to them, because it's a very good team, but these decisions obviously can make a big difference. I don't know why it was not given. I don't know what was in the head of the referee.”
Benitez, who refused to blame the defeat on a tiring midweek Europa League trip to Moscow continued: “It's clear that we played against a very good team – a strong team physically and technically - and the early goal in the second half was really disappointing for us because we wanted to react.
“With Torres on the pitch, we scored an early goal, then after you could see our team with more determination, more confidence, playing much better when we had the ball.
“We were on top of them until the end and I'm disappointed because we could not score another goal. We had one or two chances and also with the penalty not given, it was very clear it could make a big difference.”
Bentitez added: “Now we have to concentrate on the league. For us, Fulham will be a massive game [on Wednesday] and we know we have to focus and be ready.
“We'll try to keep the players positive and thinking about the good things that we did in the second half.”