Mancini defends Hart after mix-up

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Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini refused to criticise goalkeeper Joe Hart as the club's stuttering start to the season continued with a 1-1 draw against Blackburn.

Hart was involved in a mix-up with Kolo Toure that led to Blackburn taking the lead at Eastlands. The pair failed to cut out a long ball from Morten Gamst Pedersen and Nikola Kalinic was left with an open goal in the 24th minute. City responded and equalised in the 55th minute through Patrick Vieira but were unable to find a winning goal.

"It was a strange goal," said Mancini. "It can happen. This is football. Joe Hart is a good goalkeeper."

In contrast, Paul Robinson, recently retired from England, was in commanding form between the posts for Blackburn.

But although he made a string of fine saves, manager Sam Allardyce gave a modest appraisal of the goalkeeper's qualities.

Allardyce said: "Paul has played better than that for us. He put himself in the right position to make those saves. That has helped us get a point."

Allardyce was, however, thrilled at the way his team remained committed to the cause, especially as Ryan Nelsen (foot) and Michel Salgado (thigh) came off in the first half with injuries.

"We have measured up to a club that should brushing us aside in terms of the quality of players they can afford, the wages they can pay and the limited budget we work on," said Allardyce.

"But good organisation, team spirit and hard working side can always cause an upset. Manchester City fans would see this result as an upset.

"Even towards the end we might have nicked another goal when Kalinic was through but Joe Hart made a good save. But hopefully this will boost our confidence."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Morten Gamst Pedersen
Michel Salgado
Joe Hart
Manchester City
Blackburn Rovers
Paul Robinson
Premier League
Kolo Toure
Ryan Nelsen
Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira
Paul Robinson

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