Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Mancini has swipe at Hart after Ronaldo stuns Manchester City

Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart reacts at the end of a Group D Champions League soccer match against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid Tuesday Sept. 18, 2012. Real Madrid won the match 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul White)
MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Gael Clichy of Manchester City FC during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Aleksandar Kolarov of Manchester City FC celebrates with Edin Dzeko and Pablo Zabaleta after scoring his goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Having kept his side in their first group game in the Champions League last night with what Jose Mourinho called an "incredible" performance, Manchester City's Joe Hart was beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo's last-minute winner and ticked off by his manager.

Seeing off any criticism for his part in the late goal the goalkeeper said City "won and lost as a team" but Mancini snapped: "Joe Hart should stay in goal and make saves. If anyone should criticise the team it should be me, not Joe Hart. I am the judge, not Joe Hart."



It was an overspill of frustration from Mancini who also said his team had lacked courage in letting slip what would have been a famous victory, allowing Karim Benzema to score his first goal of the season and Ronaldo his 152nd goal in 151 appearances in the last three minutes as Real won 3-2.



Exasperated by his side folding at the death Mancini said: "We go too deep sometimes and leave the opponents to play on the edge of our box. I don't want us to continue defending like this. We made mistakes for this reason. At 2-1 we only had to continue playing as we had throughout the second half.



"It's difficult to take, not because we lost – because you can lose against a team like Real Madrid – but because with two minutes to go we were 2-1 up. We wouldn't have conceded if we had not been defending so deep. We should have had more courage at the end."



Vincent Kompany had ducked as Ronaldo shot. "I don't know why," said Mancini. "I haven't asked him why this happened. Usually he doesn't do this, but he makes the mistake this time.'



The result means the start to their Champions League campaign is even worse than last season but they will at least feel their most difficult fixture is out of the way. Mancini said: "We should be disappointed that we have lost this point but we can improve.



"Other teams will lose here. We have five games and it is important that we beat Dortmund in the next game. It will be difficult because Dortmund are a top team."



He also defended himself against the accusation that he had been too defensive. "When you play here, it is not easy. We did what we wanted and scored two goals. Then we made the mistake of dropping off. We have to have more courage sometimes."



The result gave Mourinho the last laugh over Mancini and over the critics who were sharpening their knives as soon as they saw the Real Madrid coach's team selection. "Of course I expect the criticism. I am crazy for leaving Sergio Ramos out and all the creative ones on the sidelines.'



He said he was thinking about "all the headlines that would need to be re-written" as he slid along the touchline to celebrate the late goal.



"We kept going right until the end and that is Real Madrid's DNA. Ramos didn't play because the coach decided not to pick him. No more than that. It was a football decision."



He said he had selected his team for an opponent he knew would look to defend. "They were very defensive in the first half because a draw in the Bernabeu is a good result. I was ready for that. But the game was more open after [Edin] Dzeko scored."



The way the game was freed up after City had taken the lead through the Bosnian striker in the 69th minute was Mancini's biggest gripe – Ronaldo its biggest benefactor.



The former Manchester United winger said: "I celebrate when I want to. We played very well and never gave in."



Mancini admitted that Sergio Aguero would have played a part if Samir Nasri had not broken down in the first half. Interviewed afterwards by Spanish media the striker made a frank admission: "I'm at City because Real Madrid didn't want me. If they had wanted me I would have joined."

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