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By ESPN Staff

Pearce blasts defenders after friendly defeat

Stuart Pearce was critical of the defensive performance of his Manchester City side after the Eastlands club lost 4-3 against Japanese side Kashima Antlers in their final game of the Shanghai International tournament.

City's slipshod showing saw inexperienced goalkeeper Joe Hart mark his start between the posts by conceding four goals to the former J.League champions.

Antoine Sibierski, Georgios Samaras and Joey Barton scored for City but Pearce's men never led as Antlers capitalised on the Premier League side's frailties.

'It was poor defensively,' said the former England full-back. 'I think for the youngster in goal it was great and he'll come on leaps and bounds because of evenings like tonight. But I don't think he had a great deal of cover in front of him, to be fair.'

Hart was picking the ball out of the back of the net as early as the 11th minute when Daisuke Iwamasa gave Antlers the lead after Danny Mills failed to clear following Takuya Nozawa's corner.

City levelled on the half-hour mark when Sibierski powered Trevor Sinclair's cross beyond the reach of Antlers goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata only for Kashima to reclaim the lead six minutes before the interval when Masashi Motoyama side-footed home following Hart's parry.

Antlers moved further ahead 10 minutes into the second half as substitute striker Marinaldo scored unopposed from close range after City gave the ball away cheaply in the Kashima half and the Japanese side broke.

Samaras reduced the deficit in the 59th minute when his shot from the edge of the area was misread by Sogahata on the bumpy Hongkou Stadium pitch and the Japanese goalkeeper allowed the ball to roll past him.

The introduction of Barton for Claudio Reyna - who picked up a shin injury in a clash with Kashima's Brazilian midfielder Fernando - saw City pick up the pace, but it was not enough to restore parity.

The pitch claimed another victim as Hart allowed Nozawa's low shot to bobble under his body in the 64th minute and, although Barton made it 4-3 with a 20-yard drive four minutes later, Kashima refused to buckle.

Sogahata made up for his earlier blunder by pulling out two fine saves in a matter of seconds, diverting headers from Bernardo Corradi and Micah Richards to safety to guarantee the win for Antlers.

'It was a tough old encounter to be honest,' said Pearce, whose side won 1-0 against Shanghai Shenhua in their first game of the tour on Friday. 'In fact both games have been physically tough encounters for all the teams.

'From a tactical point of view we started with too slow a tempo and I don't think we are a good side when we do that.

'It just showed at the end of the game when we upped the tempo - like we were on Friday with our backs to the wall a little bit - we're a better side. I think we have got to understand what makes us a decent side.'