Manuel Pellegrini admitted Manchester City deserved no more than a point from their trip to struggling Newcastle United on Tuesday.
City went ahead in fortuitous fashion after 15 minutes at St James' Park when Sergio Aguero glanced his 100th Premier League goal beyond Karl Darlow from an offside position.
But Pellegrini's side, who perhaps had one eye on next week's Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, were below their best and 19th-placed Newcastle were good value for their 1-1 draw, earned through Vurnon Anita's first goal in more than two years.
City therefore missed the chance to strengthen their grip on a place in the top four, and Pellegrini was left to reflect on a lacklustre performance from his side.
"It's not a good result. We had some chances in the second half to score the second goal, but we didn't play well and didn't deserve to win," the Chilean said at his post-match media conference.
"It is more difficult against these teams who are playing for their life. It's very important to have a high pace and maybe today we did not have too many creative players to create the space against a deep defence and that's why we couldn't win."
City thought they should have had a penalty early in the second half when Chancel Mbemba clumsily brought down Aguero in the area, but Pellegrini refused to blame referee Kevin Friend for their failure to find a winning goal.
The Chilean also had his say on the race for Champions League qualification, with fifth-placed Manchester United able to close to within two points of City with a win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Pellegrini added: "I don't think one action can decide the game. I don't want to speak about the referee. I think we could have done better and create more chances, but we didn't.
"Every season it's [the battle for the top four] very close [and] we'll see what happens with the other teams this week.
"Now we have 12 more points to play for and it depends on that to see whether we'll be in the Champions League next year."
Pellegrini was also quizzed on Aguero, with only Alan Shearer able to better Aguero's achievement of reaching his Premier League century in 147 games - the Newcastle legend having reached the landmark in just 124 appearances.
"I'm happy for him - it's not easy to score 100 goals in the amount of games that Sergio did it, he's second in the history of the Premier League and I hope that he will continue in the same way until the end of the season."