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Nov 15, 2012

Hodgson defends Hart blunders

England boss Roy Hodgson has defended goalkeeper Joe Hart after he was outclassed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in England's 4-2 friendly loss against Sweden.

• Blog: Ode to Steven Gerrard

Hart, 25, has been a standout in the Premier League this season, but he has come under criticism for failing to keep out Ibrahimovic's long-range free kick which gave Sweden a 3-2 lead.

The Manchester City 'keeper's poor header also allowed Ibrahimovic to score a spectacular bicycle kick in the final minute of time, although Hodgson believes Hart shouldn't be the focus of attention.

"You can always blame goalkeepers for those things, but it was a bit disappointing to concede a goal of course, when a shot's coming in from that distance [for the free kick]," he said. "I'll have to see it again on the video replay. I certainly wouldn't be prepared to start casting aspersions on the goalkeeper or proportioning blame. That doesn't matter.

"All goals are mistakes somewhere along the line; the thing is what you do during the course of the 94 minutes, and I thought during the 94 minutes today we did some very good things."

Hodgson made a number of changes in the latter stages of the match and he admits that may have given Sweden the upperhand. But he says there are still many positive signs for England and he joined Steven Gerrard in hailing Ibrahimovic's final goal.

"There's no doubt the fourth goal was something really extraordinary," Hodgson said. "Of course that put the tin lid on the game, but it was the second and third goals that cost us a victory here. But I thought for long periods of the game, certainly 70 minutes of the game, I thought we were actually playing very well and deserved to be leading.

"I thought we were very dangerous but of course I was quite anxious to look at a few players in this game, and maybe the changes at the end and the second goal gave them more initiative, and we ended up losing. There are a lot of positives to take from the game for me."

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