McLeish sticks up for Hart

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Football News

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish praised the character of goalkeeper Joe Hart as he recovered from a crucial error to help his side reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup via a last-gasp win at Derby.

Hart was at fault when Derby defender James McEveley gave the Rams the lead after the break, but Blues responded with goals from Scott Dann and, in injury time, Liam Ridgewell to seal their place in the last eight. There was still time for Hart to pull off a superb save and atone for his earlier error when he tipped over a piledriver from Robbie Savage in the closing seconds.

"McEveley's shot took a bounce in front of Joe and it was a difficult pitch but I was still surprised to see it end up in the back of the net," said McLeish.

"But Joe has shown great character all season and always responded in the right way. It was a tremendous save that he made from Savage right at the death.

"I spoke to Fabio Capello during the week and he is also very happy with Joe's form overall."

McLeish again praised the character of his side in putting a below-par performance behind them to claim victory over Nigel Clough's outfit.

He said: "We looked as if we were on our way out of the cup. Derby troubled us before half-time and we didn't really get going until we made some changes.

"But once again the team demonstrated the fantastic determination they have produced time and time again this season.

Derby manager Clough played down hand gestures made by former Birmingham midfielder Savage towards the Blues fans after Ridgewell had netted a 91st-minute winner.

He said: "I'd rather talk about the 95 minutes of football before that. If you want to make a big issue about a gesture from a captain of a team that has conceded so late in the game then do that, but I'd rather talk about more positive things."

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Joe Hart
Liam Ridgewell
Premier League
Derby County
James McEveley
Scott Dann
Robbie Savage
FA Cup

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