It ain't nothing but a Hart-ache

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Football News

England Under-21 goalkeeper Joe Hart insists he did nothing to warrant the yellow card that rules him out of the European Championship final on Monday.

Hart was booked during the penalty shoot-out at Gothenburg's Gamla Ullevi against hosts Sweden, apparently for speaking at the spot-kick takers.

"Nobody talked," Hart said. "Neither of us were speaking, it was a silent shoot-out."

Hart's caution was the sour note to the finale of a match where England, and Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce, ended their semi-final spot-kick hoodoo. Pearce lost twice at the last-four stage as a player, then two years ago when coaching his youngsters.

On this occasion, James Milner skied his effort after slipping but Hart scored and saved from Marcus Berg before Guillermo Molins hit the post to ensure a 5-4 win for England.

Hart's booking still overshadowed the achievement, with Pearce planning to appeal, even though UEFA usually only overturn decisions if it is a case of mistaken identity.

"The referee told me not to speak so I didn't," Hart added. "Then he's pulled out a yellow card. I'm sure he's got his reasons, but hopefully I'll still be able to play. I'm not going to hold my breath though."

After 120 minutes, the two sides were locked at 3-3. Martin Cranie, Nedum Onuoha and an own goal from Mattias Bjarsmyr had given England a half-time lead but Sweden staged a stunning second-half comeback where Berg scored twice and Ola Toivonen added another.

"The game on Monday is the one. We have come to win it, and we have one team standing in our way. It is the furthest I have been. It is now down to who has the guts to win it," Pearce added.

"We should have put the game to bed. Too many had an eye on the final and wanted to let others do their work for them. I was disappointed the manner that we chucked away the lead."

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Joe Hart
James Milner
Stuart Pearce
Nedum Onuoha
Martin Cranie

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