Hart sets aside derby thoughts for now

EUROPEAN CHALLENGE: Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart

EUROPEAN CHALLENGE: Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart

First published in Sport

MANCHESTER CITY goalkeeper Joe Hart wants to put aside thoughts of Sunday’s eagerlyanticipated derby clash with Manchester United until later in the week.

Attention will now switch the clash of the arch-rivals and title contenders at Etihad Stadium, when local pride and top spot in the Barclays Premier League will be at stake.

But before the sides meet, both have relatively minor Champions League business to take care of.

United face Cluj in a dead rubber while City, already eliminated from the competition, travel to Borussia Dortmund looking to secure a consolation spot in the Europa League.

Hart said: ‘‘We move on to the derby now, and we’ve obviously got Dortmund on Tuesday.

‘‘We’ve got a tough one in Dortmund. We need to finish the Champions League group with a bit of pride.

‘‘Hopefully we’ll get a good result there and we’ll get into that one (derby). We’ll deal with that when it comes.’’ City trail United by three points heading into the derby but remain unbeaten after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Everton at Eastlands.

The champions needed to come from behind after Marouane Fellaini turned in a deflected Leighton Baines cross at the second attempt after 33 minutes.

Their equaliser came from a controversial penalty before the break after Fellaini was adjudged to have fouled Edin Dzeko at a corner.

It was a soft award and led to protests from Everton but Carlos Tevez made no mistake from the spot.

Hart saved well from a Fellaini header and a Nikica Jelavic free-kick in the final moments of each half but City generally dominated the second period.

The result extended City’s unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 37 games.

Hart said: ‘‘It’s a great record – one we need to keep going, but with more wins than draws.

‘‘It was a tough game. It is always going to be tough against Everton. We’d like to win but we haven’t lost.

‘‘They are a good team, they work for each other. They have got some good players and a good manager, and all that added together makes them a tough team to play against.’’ Everton, who remain in touching distance of the top-four positions, have become draw specialists.

It was their seventh stalemate in nine games but unlike after some of the previous stalemates – and despite their frustration over the penalty – they felt it was a good point gained rather than two dropped.

Defender Baines said: ‘‘It is a decent point.

‘‘We were under quite a bit of pressure in the second half and that point in the game I think we would have been happy with a point. We were still trying to hit City on the break but they played well in the second half.

‘‘I think we defended well and this is a much better point than some of the other points we have picked up in recent weeks. This is the best of the bunch.

‘‘When you come away to a team like this you expect a tough game.

‘‘In the second half we showed that grit we need to come away from sides like this with a point.’’ Everton’s recent sequence has seen them slip from second at the start of October to sixth but Baines is still satisfied with the position.

The England left-back, who overcame a hamstring worry to feature, said: ‘‘We are probably where we feel we deserve to be.

‘‘We have conceded quite a few late goals, which has disappointed us.

‘‘It is easy to look back and say we could have had an extra few points here or there, but there is no point. You’d drive yourself barmy.”

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