Sunday 17 December 2017

Hart goes from villain to hero


John Curtis

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish praised the character of goalkeeper Joe Hart as he recovered from a goal-costing error to help his side reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Hart was at fault when Derby's James McEveley gave the Rams the lead after the break. The Blues responded with goals from Scott Dann and Liam Ridgewell to seal their place in the last eight.

But there was still time for Hart to pull off a superb save, tipping over a pile-driver from Robbie Savage at the death.

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

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

"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," said the Birmingham boss.

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

"Robbie gets that sort of reception wherever he plays. You would think he would be used to it by now. We were as comfortable as anyone can be when facing a team lying eighth in the Premier League but we were undone by two set plays," said Clough.

Sunday Independent

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