Roberto Di Matteo believes that fatigue was the reason Chelsea lost the game against Newcastle on Wednesday night.
"We've been pushing the players very hard and they've responded extremely well. Tonight we have to give credit to Newcastle, they played a good game against us", the Italian said after the game.
It was the sixth game for the Blues in a period of 17 days, coming after an exhausting Champions League semi-final against Barcelona and a Premier League win over QPR last weekend.
Two amazing goals by Papis Cisse left Petr Cech stunned and his team-mates unable to react.
Chelsea eventually gained rhythm after a slow start, but their performance didn't back-up their previous two and they were unable to create clear-cut chances against an organised Magpies defence.
"In the first half we couldn't raise our tempo to where we needed to be to dominate the game. The second half was much better, we pushed Newcastle back into their half and created a few chances, had one cleared off the lines but Newcastle did well tonight. They defended well and scored two goals", Di Matteo described.
By failing to defeat Newcastle, Chelsea remain in sixth and the prospects of a top four finish are fading fast - something Di Matteo was forced to concede.
"It's going to be difficult now for us, we're obviously behind. The season has proven difficult but we will keep pushing and we won't give up", he added.
The interim manager pointed out that what is important now are the upcoming finals and remaining Premier League fixtures. The Blues still have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League as they are playing in the final and winning it would guarantee their place in the tournaments' qualifying rounds ahead of the team finishing in fourth place.
"We have a good squad. They've given everything, the effort is there and we have asked them to push and push and push. We will regroup, pick them up and we have another big game on Saturday, and we're going to go again. We look forward to the FA Cup final, it's a great event."
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