Scotland vs England: Gareth Southgate refuses to criticise Joe Hart for Leigh Griffiths' two late strikes

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who has failed to convince while on loan at Torino this year, could have done better for both goals

Ed Malyon
Hampden Park
Saturday 10 June 2017 20:21
Gareth Southgate defended his first-choice 'keeper despite criticism over his positioning
Gareth Southgate defended his first-choice 'keeper despite criticism over his positioning

Gareth Southgate refused to criticise Joe Hart for the two late Scotland goals that nearly resulted in disaster at Hampden Park.

Harry Kane’s stoppage-time equaliser settled a topsy-turvy finale, when two Leigh Griffiths free kicks - one in each corner of Hart's goal - had overturned Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s late goal and handed the hosts a shock lead in the final seconds of normal time.

Hart has struggled on loan at Torino this season and faces an uncertain future after parent club Manchester City sent a crystal clear message to the England man by splashing out £35m on Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson Moraes.

And though Hart could have done better for both Scotland strikes, his manager would not add to the increasing pressure on his position before fully analysing each set piece and suggested it was conceding the free kicks in the first place that was the problem.

“I’d need to look at the video again,” he said post-match. “As soon as you concede free kicks in those areas in international football, you run the risk of being the victim of moments of high quality. That’s what happened to us today.

“You’ve got to give credit to Griffiths, they were two outstanding technical finishes.”

When pressed on Hart’s current status within the squad, though, Southgate went on the front foot to defend the England number one and praise his attitude around the camp.

“I thought he was excellent. Extremely composed with the ball at his feet and he’s been one of the outstanding leaders in the group.

“He’s going to be disappointed with conceding any goal but we’ll have to look at the goals again.”

Southgate, while disappointed with the result, leaves Glasgow happy with his team’s performance and, most of all, character after fighting back from such savage late blows to steal a point.

“I think we were in control of the game for 80 minutes. We’ve come into a very difficult atmosphere, a difficult environment. The Scotland fans were absolutely fantastic.

Hart conceded two similar goals in the closing stages

“Tactically it’s understandable what they did, 5-4-1, leaving little spaces. Our quality in the final third was disappointing at times. We then get the goal, we are deservedly ahead but then there’s a mad minute-and-a-half.

“I don’t see anybody sink to their knees. Nobody on the floor. We should never be throwing the towel in we should always be trying to score and for me the end is the significant moment because it shows the character of the team.

“We wanted to come here and win. We haven’t managed to do that but the way things have panned out, we have got to be happy with a point.

“I think it’s a huge moment for the team.

“The questions around us centre on character and the ability to counter events that go against you but that’s what we’ve showed. We’re a team that’s never beaten and we’ll keep fighting until the clock stops. That’s what we’ve done today. Is a point what we wanted when we arrived here? No it isn’t but we’ve reacted well.”

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