Pellegrini backs Hart, hails gritty City

Yaya Toure AFP PHOTO

Yaya Toure

MANCHESTER, UK: Manuel Pellegrini was adamant as Manchester City deserved their 2-1 victory over Norwich despite almost losing the Premier League leadership because of Joe Hart’s error.

Yaya Toure’s late penalty eventually kept City on top of the table following Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy’s error.

Ruddy flapped at a Jesus Navas cross, then was caught out of position as he chased the loose ball and appeared to foul Fernando before Raheem Sterling’s goalbound shot was handled by Norwich captain Russell Martin, who was sent off.

No-one celebrated Toure’s winner with more gusto than Hart, who had made his own embarrassing mistake just minutes earlier when he dropped the ball to Cameron Jerome, who fired home Norwich’s equaliser after Nicolas Otamendi’s opener.

City could have won by a greater margin, but Aleksandar Kolarov missed a second penalty with the last kick of the game after Robbie Brady brought down Sterling.

They remain in pole position, ahead of second placed Arsenal, and City boss Pelle¬grini was in a forgiving mood as he discussed Hart’s howler and his team’s fighting spirit.

“Joe Hart is human. Anyone can make a mistake. He made two very good saves during the match as well, because he is a very good goalkeeper,” Pellegrini said.

“Of course I think we deserved to win. We tried to score from the beginning. Norwich defended very well, and it was very difficult to create the space.

“We created three or four chances, but we scored through a beautiful goal from Otamendi.

“They drew level with what was an unlucky ball for us. It was not good play from them.

“We demonstrated character and belief in the last eight minutes.

“We scored a clear penalty and missed another. We struggled in creating space at times, but I think we deserved three points.”

Other results
Crystal Palace 0 Manchester United 0

Newcastle 0 Stoke 0

Swansea 0 Arsenal 3 (Giroud 49, Koscielny 68, Campbell 73)

Watford 2 (Ighalo 39, 48) West Ham 0

West Brom 2 (Rondon 30, Lambert 84-pen) Leicester 3 (Mahrez 57, 64, Vardy 77). AFP


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