Belfast Telegraph

Fernandinho focused on Chelsea game

Fernandinho says Manchester City must quickly get over their Munich heartbreak to prevent Chelsea stretching their lead in the Barclays Premier League.

City must pick themselves up for a crunch early-season clash with their main title rivals after suffering an agonising last-gasp defeat in their Champions League opener at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

League leaders Chelsea already have a five-point advantage over the champions after just four games of the campaign.

Fernandinho said: "When you lose a game like this at the end, after the game you feel a little bit sad.

"But you have to recover as soon as you can. We have a great game against a big team like Chelsea and the best way to recover is to win that game.

"In the Premier League the most important thing is not to give the team at the top of the table reasons to keep winning game after game.

"We don't want a big space between us. We have to win because there would be six or eight points difference between us and Chelsea. We have to shorten it.

"We have to win, keep working and keep going until we are top of the table."

Chelsea ran City close last season but eventually finished six points behind Manuel Pellegrini's men in third.

This term they look stronger with their summer recruitment, particularly the signings of prolific striker Diego Costa and cultured midfielder Cesc Fabregas, adding much to the side.

Costa could be a fitness doubt for Sunday's encounter at the Etihad Stadium but Fernandinho is anticipating a tough contest.

The 29-year-old said: "They have started very well. Their new players have shown their quality.

"I think this will be a great game. We have a good team as well and are playing at home for our supporters. I hope we can win this game."

The match may also be important for confidence with City having now not won in three games with the Munich loss - heartbreaking as it was - coming after a defeat by Stoke and a draw at Arsenal.

Fernandinho said: "That is not easy (to take) for a big team such as City, but the best way to recover our confidence and our best qualities is to win the next game.

"Already we think about the Chelsea game. We have to win this game because we have had a draw against Arsenal and a loss at home to Stoke.

"We have to recover points to think about the top of the table."

Fernandinho has no doubts about City's quality and takes much from the performance at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

City ultimately went down 1-0 after a deflected strike from Jerome Boateng in the 89th minute found a way past the imperious Joe Hart.

Bayern's dominance over 90 minutes meant victory was not undeserved but City not only showed resilience but had chances of their own.

Because of that Fernandinho is convinced City can succeed at the top European level. The club have made no secret of their ambition to make an impact in the Champions League this season after three years of doing little more than gaining experience in the competition.

Asked if City can compete against such sides, Brazil international Fernandinho said: "I think so, especially like we have played here. We played well. We created some chances to score goals, we (could have) had a penalty for us.

"Unfortunately we conceded the goal at the end of the game.

"But in the Champions League you have to keep the concentration to the end, then we wouldn't get beaten or concede a goal."

Despite his confidence, the result leaves City already playing catch-up in a tough Group E, with their next opponents Roma having opened their campaign with a 5-1 win over CSKA Moscow.

And there was also no doubting that City's star performer was their goalkeeper, as Hart produced a string of brilliant saves to deny the likes of Thomas Muller, David Alaba, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze.

It looked like being his night when he made another fine one-handed stop to deny Boateng with the clock ticking down, only for his former team-mate to get lucky with another strike moments later.

It was almost a reputation-restoring display by Hart, whose loss of form last autumn led to a short spell out of the side and questions have persisted over his consistency since.

"He showed his best quality," said Fernandinho. "He showed why he is the number one for England."

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