Joe Hart saves City as Mancini promises to fix 'the problem'
Even Old Trafford favourite Wayne Rooney hails Hart after Dortmund display
JOE HART has been hailed as the best keeper in the world after keeping Borussia Dortmund at bay with a string of amazing saves as Manchester City put in yet another sub-standard performance in the Champions League, but emerged with a 1-1 draw at the Etihad.
The England keeper made eight outstanding stops to keep his team in the contest, and even though Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty to earn City a point, it was the gloveman who was singled out afterwards.
"He saved everything and we should say thank you to him," said Roberto Mancini. "He did a fantastic performance. I don't know if it's the best performance in football history but he did very well."
If that was high praise from his increasingly frazzled boss, it fell to a rival from across the Manchester divide to bestow the ultimate accolade. "Have to say Joe Hart has been incredible," tweeted Wayne Rooney. "For me best keeper in the world."
The newspapers largely agreed with that sentiment. "Hart denied Mario Gotze on three occasions in the first half alone and, at times, it felt as though he was single-handedly keeping Dortmund at bay," said The Guardian.
"Hart produced one of the finest performances by an English goalkeeper in memory to frustrate the German champions," marvelled The Times.
But The Daily Telegraph was concerned about the wider picture. "While Mancini was quick to salute his goalkeeper, the manager was equally keen to condemn the performance of his team, who must now beat Ajax home and away in their next two games to retain any realistic hope of qualification."
And the BBC commented: "The wreckage of last season's Champions League campaign remains fresh in the memory and now Roberto Mancini is battling to prevent history repeating itself... Vincent Kompany looks unrecognisable to the formidable leader he was last season, while there is a worrying lack of width in midfield."
The Independent was also in no doubt about City's failings. "The sheer pummelling Roberto Mancini's side underwent at the hands of the wonderfully gifted German champions made them unworthy of the late draw they secured... The Germans punched huge holes in City's defence all night and it took one of the finest goalkeeping displays on these shores in years – eight great saves by Joe Hart at the final count - to preserve a place in the tournament which had seemed utterly lost, as the clock ticked down."
Afterwards, Mancini was slightly gnomic about his team's performance. "I know the problem and I will resolve very quickly this problem," he told the Manchester Evening News. Asked what the problem was, he said: "It is my problem. It is my job. I understand the problem."