Sir Alex Ferguson turns attention to Manchester City following FA Cup exit

Manchester United can virtually seal the title next Monday

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson challenged Manchester United to bounce back from their FA Cup exit by hammering the final nail in to Roberto Mancini's title hopes at Old Trafford next week.

A fantastic goal from Demba Ba, and an equally impressive save from Petr Cech, put an end to United's Cup hopes yesterday as Rafael Benitez enjoyed a rare victory against his old enemy at Stamford Bridge.

The 1-0 defeat dashed Ferguson's hopes of lifting his first FA Cup in nine years, but the Scot knows the disappointing defeat will be all but forgotten if United beat their neighbours City at Old Trafford on Monday night.

Victory over their bitter rivals will put the Red Devils 18 points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League with seven games left.

A miracle would then be the only thing to prevent United from clinching their 20th title against Stoke or West Ham in the following weeks.

"We will kick on," the United boss said.

"It was disappointing (to lose against Chelsea), of course, but we have to forget all about it and move on to the game against City next Monday.

"We are in a good position obviously and I think a positive result for us on Monday will just about seal the title for us."

With City sure to be up for the derby at Old Trafford, where they won 6-1 last season, United will have to up their overall performance from the one they put on yesterday in west London.

Ferguson's men dominated the first half, but failed to test Cech properly, and they lost their composure after the break, allowing Chelsea to dominate and win the tie through Ba's well-taken volley.

Ferguson, who was without groin injury victim Wayne Rooney, criticised his players after the match.

He said: "The players are down because they know they can do better.

"To be honest I thought that over the 90 minutes only Antonio Valencia reached the standard we expect of them... Phil Jones (did) for a good part of the game and David De Gea did well, but in terms of the 90 minute-performance Antonio Valencia was the only one."

It could have been a different story had Cech not saved brilliantly from Javier Hernandez's header in the second half, however.

"It was an unbelievable save," Ferguson added. "I think if we had got that goal then and we would have been OK. It may have gone to extra time, of course, but it would have brought us back in to the game and we didn't need to go chasing it."