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Managers play down Hart spat in City's title boost

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MANUEL PELLEGRINI and Steve Bruce sought to play down a second half spat between Joe Hart and Hull substitute George Boyd after 10-man Manchester City boosted their Premier League title bid with a 2-0 win at the KC Stadium.

David Silva and Edin Dzeko struck for City, who were forced to play the last 80 minutes with a numerical disadvantage after captain Vincent Kompany was red carded for hauling down Tigers striker Nikica Jelavic.

But the win was tarnished by a 69th minute clash between Hart and Boyd after the Hull man fell under Hart's challenge in the box, with both men squaring up and a suggestion that Boyd may have spat in the goalkeeper's direction.

The English FA will wait to see the referee's report today before deciding whether charges will follow over the incident – which saw only Hart cautioned by referee Lee Mason – but while neither manager was aware of the specific charge against Boyd, they shrugged off the broader incident.

Pellegrini said it was "impossible" to see it properly from his position on the touchline, while Bruce described it as "handbags" before launching an impassioned defence of Boyd over suggestions he had dived in search of a penalty.

DIFFERENCE

Bruce added: "There is a difference between simulation and diving, and trying to get out of the road. That's what Boyd is trying to do – nobody's going to stand there with Joe Hart coming at him."

The incident took the shine off a sturdy performance by City, who bounced back from successive defeats to Wigan and Barcelona to grind out a victory which, in light of Chelsea's demise, could prove crucial.

Kompany was dismissed for clearly preventing Jelavic from having a clean run on goal, although Pellegrini maintained referee Mason ought to have already pulled play back for an earlier foul by the Hull man.

Bruce conceded that City's changed tactics in the wake of Kompany's dismissal led to the Tigers' game-plan going out of the window – and led to a frustrating afternoon for the hosts in which City soaked up pressure and relied chiefly on the counter-attack.

Bruce said: "The game-plan went out of the window after 10 minutes. We just didn't have the quality to break them down."


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