Mancini won't blame Hart for City shocker
SUNDERLAND, United Kingdom (AFP) - Roberto Mancini refused to blame goalkeeper Joe Hart for wrecking Manchester City's title challenge as the champions slipped to a shock 1-0 defeat at Sunderland.
England midfielder Adam Johnson claimed the only goal against his former club on Wednesday to end City's eight-month unbeaten away league record.
Hart looked at fault as he was beaten at his near post by Johnson's 53rd minute effort to leave City trailing seven points behind leaders Manchester United, who increased their advantage thanks to a late winner in a 4-3 victory over Newcastle.
However, Mancini's ire was directed at referee Kevin Friend rather than the England keeper, who was nevertheless at fault for allowing Johnson's cross to slip beneath his out-stretched left arm. The Italian admitted his side had been "soft" in crucial areas, but also pointed the finger at the officials as City suffered a third consecutive defeat at the Stadium of Light, a venue where they are winless for almost four-and-a-half years.