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Europa League round of 16 draw

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Hart: City must show spirit of last season

Joe Hart has called on his his Manchester City team-mates to take inspiration from last season and have faith that they can claw their way back into the Premier League title race.

• Heneage: Doubts creep up on City
• Blog: Questions, questions

A 1-0 defeat at Sunderland saw the champions slip seven points behind leaders Manchester United, who snatched a late victory against Newcastle on Boxing Day.

While Hart admits Wednesday's results were painful, he insists City are still in the title race, and can take heart from the fact they overturned an eight-point deficit in the final six games of last season to pip United to the title.

"We've had leads, United have had the lead - it's to-ing and fro-ing at the moment," Hart told the club's official website.

"We're a team of winners, it's hard and it hurts but we've got to move on. It is hard to lead and it is hard to chase too. We've clawed points back before, we proved it at the end of last year - we've just got to believe."

Adam Johnson scored the only goal of the game to sink his former club, and Hart was quick to praise Sunderland counterpart Simon Mignolet for his part in keeping City's strikers at bay.

He added: "Simon Mignolet has had a magnificent game, he's a brilliant goalkeeper. I've watched him closely in other games and I think Sunderland defended for their lives and it just wouldn't go in for us.

"The only way we can change it is by winning here next year but for now we only have Norwich on our minds."

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