MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists Middlesbrough “deserved” their FA Cup win at the Etihad Stadium and refused to use his side’s trip to Abu Dhabi as an excuse.
City had spent five days prior to the fourth-round tie in a warm-weather training camp in the United Arab Emirates.
The team only returned to Manchester on Friday evening and second-half goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike dumped the Premier champions out of the cup.
But Pellegrini, who did have the option to return on Thursday after playing a friendly against Hamburg the previous day, denied the travel was a factor.
“I don’t think so,” said Pellegrini at his post-match press conference, when asked about the matter.
“We had six or seven clear chances to score at the beginning. I think we played very well.
“After they scored the goal we were disorderly and they had another counter-attack and they could score more goals.
“But it is very easy to say that (about Abu Dhabi). I don’t think that is the reason.”
City had the better of the first half but were repeatedly denied by Middlesbrough keeper Tomas Mejias.
Bamford’s strike after 53 minutes changed the complexion of the game and subs Kike put the result beyond doubt in injury time.
Pellegrini said: “We had two games in the same match.
“Before they scored we played very well. After that I think Middlesbrough deserved to continue in the cup.
“But I feel it is not normal not to score in the last two games at home.
“I think there are a lot of football reasons rather than Abu Dhabi. They are different things.”