Joe Hart was personally thanked by Roberto Mancini for saving Manchester City from an ‘incredible’ home defeat to Borussia Dortmund in a tense Champions League clash last night.
The England No.1 produced vital save after vital save as the German champions battered the Premier League titleholders and could have easily racked up a cricket score.
But the heroics of Hart kept City in the game before a debatable penalty was slotted home by Mario Balotelli to cancel out Marco Reus’ cool finish to draw the game 1-1.
“Joe Hart saved us from an incredible defeat because he saved everything and we should say thank you to him,” said the Italian.
“He had a fantastic performance, he was fantastic tonight. I don’t know if it is the best performance in football history, but he did very well.”
The result leaves the Blues with just one point from two games and forces them into an uphill battle to escape the Group of Champions – they play Ajax back-to-back fixtures next.
And despite Hart’s dominance between the sticks, Mancini’s men still have not kept a clean sheet in two months of football – much to the annoyance for the former Inter Milan boss.
“We didn’t play well,” he admitted. “We conceded a lot of chances to them and I am really disappointed by our performance.
“The Champions League is totally different from the championship. When you have a chance you need to score. If you concede like we concede this evening, it is hard to win.
“In the first half we had three or four incredible chances and if you don’t defend, if you don’t run like Borussia Dortmund did this evening, it is just difficult.
“It is my problem, it is my job. But I will solve this problem.”
City were made to sweat until the 89th minute when Neven Subotic was questionably deemed to have handled the ball in the box after Sergio Aguero blasted the ball towards goal from close range.
But the young Italian striker stepped up with the nervous stadium’s pressure on his shoulders and coolly slotted home.
“It was important – Mario’s penalties are like Joe in goal,” Mancini said. “He did very well.
“I am happy because he scored. Our performance was very, very poor, but at the end of the group this point could be very important.”
And Mancini admitted that his side could not rely on weak penalties to save their skin.
“He [Subotic] touched the ball with his hand. He was unlucky,” he told Sky Sports.
“It could be, maybe not – but I’m happy with the penalty.”
It was a dreadful night for City after Javi Garcia was forced off in the first half with injury and talisman playmaker Yaya Toure looked a far cry from the player at the beginning of the season.