Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta has admitted that Saturday's shock FA Cup final defeat to Wigan Athletic has been hard to take.
But the Argentina international, who was sent off in the closing stages of the match at Wembley Stadium, praised the Latics for their memorable performance.
“It is hard to accept some defeats like this because we knew it was going to be a difficult game," the right-back told Manchester City's official website. “The way Wigan play is good and on a big pitch like Wembley they felt comfortable.
“They played a fantastic game and had control of the ball practically all the game, from the first minute to the end.
“Tactically they were better than us and we need to accept we didn’t play our best game and they have fully deserved the win.”
Zabaleta picked up a second booking six minutes from full time after putting a mistimed tackle on Wigan's man of the match Callum McManaman - but despite looking aggrieved at the time, the City star admitted referee Andre Marriner had little choice but to show him another yellow card.
“I knew it was a difficult situation," Zabaleta, who become only the third man to be sent off in an FA Cup final, added. "McManaman was going towards goal and obviously I had already been booked. My decision was to try to stop him and I went a bit late.
"I was frustrated to get sent off in a big game but this is part of football. I know as a defender we can sometimes be exposed at the back and we need to make these types of tackles and fouls."
Zabaleta is now focused on next season - and believes City must stay positive and keep working hard.
“This season has practically gone and we need to come back next season stronger and try to win something again. We need to learn from this and come back next year with a better mentality," he added.
“If we want to keep winning trophies we need to give more and be more consistent because this is the Premier League - the most competitive league in the world and if you give any chance to the teams they will take them.
“It’s difficult at the moment but we need to be positive and keep working hard.”
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