Carlos Tevez kept Manchester City's faint title hopes alive as the Argentine striker fired the champions to a 1-0 win at struggling Aston Villa on Monday.
Tevez struck on the stroke of half-time after Villa's Ciaran Clark gifted possession to Edin Dzeko in a dangerous area and the Bosnian set up his team-mate to beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
That was enough to move Roberto Mancini's side back to 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester United, but City are still a long-shot to regain the Premier League crown they won so dramatically last season.
Mancini conceded it would be hard to catch United, but he insisted his team would keep pushing Alex Ferguson's men right until the end of the season.
"We know it will be difficult but we will keep on trying. It was important to stay 12 points behind United and for us the championship is not over," Mancini said.
"We have to keep on winning and see. This is football, nothing is impossible.
"We are playing well. We had good chances and Aston Villa are a good team. It is strange that they are down there and for that reason I am happy with my team."
Villa remain in the relegation zone, with goal difference keeping Paul Lambert's struggling team below 17th placed Wigan in the battle for survival.
Crucial clashes against relegation rivals Reading and QPR loom for Villa in their next two games and, despite a run of one win in 10 matches in all competitions, Lambert remains confident they can get out of trouble.
"I have always had the belief that we will stay up. If we keep playing like that we will win more than not," Lambert said.
"I cannot fault the lads. We have been playing very well without getting the rewards we deserve.
"We were in the game for long periods and everyone is disappointed to lose.
"We had one or two little half chances, but we were against a good side. We came away with our heads held high."
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