‘Is that your friend?’ - Pundits disagree over Joe Hart’s positioning as Celtic keeper’s role in Feyenoord goal examined

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The Celtic goalkeeper was caught out by a free-kick and Martin O’Neill bemoaned the error, but laid the blame on Kyogo instead.

The positioning of Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart for Feyenoord’s opening goal in their 2-0 victory over the Scottish champions in their Champions League opener on Tuesday night has gone under the microscope.

Pundits Micah Richards and Thierry Henry clashed on CBS over the veteran shot-stopper’s role in allowing Calvin Stengs to score from a long-range free-kick just before half-time at De Kuip.

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Hart was unable to keep the ball out after appearing to leave a big gap between himself and the left-hand post, while others blamed striker Kyogo Furuhashi for his decision to break away from the defensive wall. It lead to a disagreement between ex-Arsenal and France icon Henry and former Premier League star Richards over who was to blame for the goal.

Henry felt Hart had to do better given the circumstances and accused Richards of defending the 36-year-old to the hilt because they are close friends after coming through the youth system together at Manchester City.

Henry said: “If you could say it was going to sting Celtic, and it did. I mean, you should never concede a goal like that, keeper”, to which Richards responded: “He obviously wasn’t happy with the wall. You could see. If the wall was in the right position, he couldn’t react until late.”

That led Henry to reply: “I know, that’s why he put the wall.” Richards then continued: “Joe Hart, you see him afterwards. They moved. You can’t blame the keeper for that. He saw it late. It can happen to anyone.”

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The pair continued their debate with Henry admitting: “I think he can do better.” Richards replied: “Look at the wall, he’s not happy with the wall.”

Henry then joked: “It that your friend?” and a grinning Richards commented: “Maybe.”

Legendary former Hoops manager Martin O’Neill laid the blame at Kyogo’s door, claiming the Japanese talisman should’ve been nowhere near the wall in the first place.

Speaking on TNT Sport, he said: “It’s very obvious he’s going to bend it with his left foot. Kyogo moves out of the way and goes sideways on it. But I have to say, first of all he should not be in that position in the wall.

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“He’s the smallest player on the pitch for a start. Secondly, he’s in the most important position when the free-kick is taken. He’s in the inside of the wall. He should not be there. They should have the taller men in that position there for a start. That’s it.

“I don’t think that Joe Hart has done fantastically well. But in mitigation for me, I think he’s seen it a little bit late. But Kyogo, I know he turns away from it, that’s number one. But what I’m saying is, he’s so small, he should not be in that position there in the lining up for that wall for a left-footed free-kick taker.”

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