Jose Mourinho has acknowledged that Manchester United are just six points away from qualifying for the 2018-19 Champions League after a thrilling 3-2 derby victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.
A triumph for Manchester City would have confirmed them as 2017-18 Premier League winners and they were well on there way after a dominating first-half.
Mou interested in points, not party-pooping
Vincent Kompany's bullet header and Ilkay Gundogan's finish before the half-hour mark gave the champions-elect a 2-0 lead at the break which prompted mass scenes of premature jubilation in the stands.
United came out flying in the second half though and a quickfire Paul Pogba double levelled the scores before Chris Smalling struck in the 69th minute to complete an unthinkable comeback and spoil the party.
Despite the Red Devils crashing their city rivals' coronation day stealing the headlines, United boss Mourinho stressed that his thoughts were always on strengthening the club's position in second place.
Speaking to the press after full-time, he insisted: “My objective here was to get points and not spoil any celebrations. The point is can we improve enough to catch them next season?"
City brilliance means second is the aim
Pep Guardiola's side have been runaway leaders in the top-flight all term after a breathtaking start saw 19 wins in their first 20 matches, including a record-breaking 18-game win streak.
The Cityzens' dominance has been so enthralling that the real race at the top of the league has been for European places, and most notably second place, where United have also sat for most of the season.
Mourinho stated that runners-up in the Premier League is now his team's aim: “Our challenge is to finish second but I want to congratulate City because they are deservedly going to win the title.
"They gave no chance to the others because they had this season of don’t stop winning. I think mathematically we need six points to stay in the top four and this win is part of that tonight."
Manchester United can secure their place in next season's Champions League with wins against managerless West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday night.