Nikola Zigic has apologised to Birmingham City fans for his Europa League penalty miss.
And the giant striker insisted Blues still had to believe they could qualify for the knock-out phase of the competition.
Zigic had his spot-kick saved by SC Braga captain Quim during a dominant early spell in Wednesday’s penultimate Group H match.
And it proved to be costly as the Portuguese went on to win fortuitously through Hugo Viana’s heavily-deflected goal.
At the same time in Slovenia, Club Brugge staged a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down to defeat NK Maribor 4-3.
That means Brugge only have to avoid defeat in the final round of fixtures to edge Blues out.
Braga secured qualification for the last 32 with victory over Chris Hughton’s side.
“I give my apologies,” said Zigic. “If I had scored the penalty, it would have changed the story.
“After that, I don’t know. If it had gone in the game would have been different.
“We played very well in the first half. We had a couple of chances, but missed them.
“Then their one shot, Hugo Viana, it was lucky. Somebody touched it and the ball changed direction.
“We tried to get back into the game but we were unable to. In the final third we just didn’t create the chances that we needed.
“It’s life. Now we have to look at the last game. We have a chance against Maribor at home and I think if we win this game we have the possibility of playing more in Europe.
“We know it will be difficult now. But it’s football, you never know. It’s about our team. We need to win ourselves and then we will see what happens in the other game.”
Blues face Maribor on December 15 at St Andrew’s. Had they held on to their lead against Brugge, then Blues would have been in the driving seat going into the last meeting because of the head-to-head against the Belgians.
Zigic revealed it was left to the Blues players to decide on the pitch who would take any penalty awarded as Marlon King, the regular taker, was not in the starting line-up.
Quite simply, he felt confident and wanted the responsibility that presented itself in the 11th minute.
“In the moment, I felt good. I took the ball and I tried to score the goal. Maybe I could have hit a better shot. The goalkeeper saved it, he went the right way.
“The first 45 minutes we played very well but after their goal we went down a little more, one step more.”
Blues were unhappy that centre-half Ewerton was not sent off in the 14th minute.
He had already been booked for conceding the penalty by tugging back Wade Elliott. Then he sent Chris Burke flying through the air with a late sliding tackle as he drove towards the penalty area.
Swedish referee Markus Strombergsson inexplicably didn’t take any action.
Zigic shrugged: “You can talk about the sending-off, but if I had scored the penalty it would have changed the story. Everything would have changed.”
The game was Zigic’s sixth start for Blues since February’s Carling Cup final victory.
He has been bedevilled by injury but said he was reaching full effectiveness at last.
“Yes, I feel better with every game,” said Zigic, who got Blues’ winner against Leeds United at the end of October and snatched the equaliser at Blackpool last weekend.
“I feel more confident and physically good. I expect to play more, yes, and score more goals.”