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Hart says penalty save will give City belief

25 February 2015, 10:33

Manchester - Manchester City were outplayed by Barcelona for most of their Champions League first leg tie on Tuesday but will still go to the Nou Camp hopeful of reaching the last eight for the first time thanks to Joe Hart.

The England goalkeeper, beaten twice by Uruguay striker Luis Suarez in a 2-1 defeat, dived to his right to block Argentine maestro Lionel Messi's penalty with the last kick of the game.

Had it gone in, or Messi directed his header from the rebound between the posts, Barca would have left with a 3-1 advantage that would have virtually assured their progress.

They may have a few niggling doubts now, though, as such moments can prove pivotal -- just as when Messi missed a penalty in a 3-2 semi-final defeat by Chelsea in 2012.

Asked if his save could be crucial, Hart, who also made crucial stops from Messi and Suarez, said: "I hope so.

"We'll go there with a great group of fans, belief and we will have a right go."

"We regrouped in the second half, put a lot of pressure on and were good for our goal and maybe good for a result tonight.

"The occasion did not get to us, sometimes things go against you. It is 2-1 and we go there with belief."


City manager Manuel Pellegrini, criticised last year when his side lost 4-1 on aggregate to Barcelona at the same stage, was pleased with his side's response after a poor first half.

"We were calmer in the second half and hung on and pressured and did well to get something out of the game."

The Chilean acknowledged that Hart's penalty stop, after Messi had been bundled over by Pablo Zabaleta, had probably kept his side alive for next month's second leg.

Also read: Juve overcome Chiellini blunder to edge Dortmund

"It was a very important save. Of course it gives us more chance to try and win in Barcelona, but 3-1 would have been a very difficult score to try and overturn," he told reporters.

His opposite number Luis Enrique praised his team's display in the first 45 minutes when they tore the hosts apart.

"The first half we were free and relaxed and created danger, we were superior in the middle and had clarity in front of goal.

"In the second half they made us suffer a bit but the result was more than fair."

Messi has now missed five of his last 10 penalties for club and country but Enrique was not concerned.

"We know penalties can be missed and Leo will be taking our next penalty, " he said. "The tie is still open but even if it was 3-1 it would not be done and dusted."

- Reuters


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