Roberto Di Matteo: It is now beat Bayern Munich or bust for Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo has all but conceded Chelsea must beat Bayern Munich later this month to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Chelsea were once again unable to beat a team above them in the Premier League, losing 2-0 to Newcastle at Stamford Bridge, a defeat which leaves them four points behind Tottenham, who beat Bolton 4-1 and last night's opponents, with just two games remaining.
If Di Matteo can lead his side to glory in Munich later this month, then they will knock out the fourth-placed team in the Premier League from next year's competition. That is now their most realistic hope of reaching a 10th successive Champions League.
When Di Matteo was asked if he would have to win the competition to qualify, he said: "It's going to be difficult now for us to reach fourth spot. The season has proven difficult. We'll keep pushing though until it's impossible. We won't give up.
"We've lost many points during this season and, ultimately, looking back over the whole season, that's why we're in the position we are. My players have given everything. The effort is there. We've been asking them to push and push and push and they've done well. We'll regroup and pick them up. We've got a big game, a great final, on Saturday and we'll go again. We'll look forward to the FA Cup final.
"In the first half we didn't raise our tempo to where we needed to be to be able to dominate the game. The second half was better and we pushed them back into their half, creating a few chances that were cleared off the line, but Newcastle did well tonight, defended well, had two shots and scored two goals.
"We've been pushing the players for the last two months and they've responded extremely well. Tonight we have to give credit to Newcastle. They did well and played a very good game against us. They have a player in their team at the moment that, whatever he touches, it goes in."
Newcastle's two goals came from Papiss Cissé, who has now scored 13 times in the 12 games he has played since moving from Freiburg in January. The win keeps Alan Pardew and his side in sight of a possible Champions League qualification spot themselves, ahead of a titanic clash with Manchester City at St James' Park on Sunday.
"It's all to play for," said Pardew. "We've got ourselves in a great position. You don't get in this position unless you have great players and some of our players tonight were phenomenal. We've got two games to go and the aim is to try and win them both and see where that leaves us. It's going to be a special day for us."
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food