City stars stand up for Hart

  • Last Updated: October 4 2013, 6:01 BST

Manchester City pair Samir Nasri and Micah Richards have jumped to the defence of under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Joe Hart: Backed by his team-mates
Joe Hart: Backed by his team-mates

Hart was at fault for two of Bayern Munich's goals as City were swept aside 3-1 by the European champions on Wednesday night.

The mistakes have increased the pressure on the 26-year-old England number one, whose form has now been patchy for close to a year.

But Hart's team-mates remain in no doubt of his quality and playmaker Nasri still rates him among the best in the world in his position.

The Frenchman said: "I think it's (Manuel) Neuer, Joe Hart and maybe Hugo Lloris, because I play with him in the national team, then (Gianluigi) Buffon too.

"(Iker) Casillas doesn't play any more but for me Joe is in the world's top five, easily.

"I am not worried about him. For the first time in a long time England have a world-class goalkeeper."

Hart got across to, but failed to keep out, Franck Ribery's shot for Bayern's first goal in their Champions League Group D hammering at the Etihad Stadium.

After being exposed by a Gael Clichy error for the Germans' second goal by Thomas Muller, he was then beaten too easily at the near post for Arjen Robben's third.

There was speculation his place for England's vital upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland could be under threat but manager Roy Hodgson has publicly backed his first choice.

Nasri also does not think Hart's confidence is suffering.

He said: "I think that when you are a top player like Joe, you don't have problems with confidence.

"Sometimes you can have a rough patch but he knows everyone is behind him at the club."

Hart always kept the faith of City's former manager Roberto Mancini and his successor Manuel Pellegrini has been supportive so far.

Richards is also firmly behind the goalkeeper.

The defender said: "Me and Joe are very close and we all make mistakes.

"He will bounce back because he is a strong character.

"He is not to blame for the result, the team were not good enough in all areas. He will bounce back.

"He is still England's best keeper. I know we have some real good talents but he is definitely the best.

"He knows he could have done better with the first, but he will get over it."

Despite the errors, there was no disguising the fact City were comprehensively outplayed by Pep Guardiola's brilliant side.

City did pull one back through substitute Alvaro Negredo and hit the bar through David Silva late on, after Jerome Boateng was sent off, but the final scoreline flattered the hosts.

It was a harsh lesson for City and a clear indicator, for all their stated ambition of making an impression on Europe, of how far they still have to climb.

The result lifted Bayern three points clear at the top of the group and left City facing two pivotal games against CSKA Moscow, their likely rivals for second place.

Richards, who was handed a surprise start in the game after just one League Cup appearance this season, said: "After that performance we all need picking up, it's not just Joe.

"It was men against boys. It wasn't good. Our star performers didn't take the game by the scruff of the neck.

"We played against the champions and they are probably going to go close to retaining it.

"We have a bit of work to do before we get to that level."

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