No-one has made more saves in a single UEFA Champions League match this season than Joe Hart on Wednesday night.
In a performance which was perhaps even better than his career-defining best at Spurs in 2010 and against Dortmund in 2012, England’s no.1 defied three of the best strikers on the planet time and time again to keep City alive in the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona.
Notoriously hard-to-please French publication L’Equipe even dished out an extremely rare 9/10 award, calling it "one of the finest Champions League performances by a goalkeeper for a long time".
Lionel Messi, who was denied by Hart from the penalty spot in the first-leg, branded City’s goalkeeper as a “phenomenon”.
To Joe’s understandable disappointment, his superhuman efforts proved in vain and Manuel Pellegrini’s men crashed out 3-1 on aggregate but we couldn’t let this remarkable performance pass without paying tribute in words, stats, pictures and quotes.
- Hart made 10 saves versus Barcelona, the most by a goalkeeper in a Champions League game this season.
- A goalkeeper hasn’t matched that tally in the competition since Iker Casillas did it in Turin on 5/11/13.
- Five of the ten saves came from shots inside the City area.
- Joe made one-on-one saves from Messi, Neymar and Suarez on three occasions (each!)
In Joe’s words…
“I’m in there to make saves, they hit me a lot tonight, I just tried to make myself big, but we move on,” he told journalists.
"It’s West Brom next, and a big shout to the fans who came here again up in the clouds we really appreciate them coming and we know we’re going to turn up on Saturday afternoon and will be ready to go again."
Daniel Taylor – Guardian: “Joe Hart put on one of the outstanding performances of his life to keep the score down and Messi must feel perplexed that he could decorate the game so elegantly yet be deprived of another goal for his personal collection.”
Ian Herbert – Telegraph: “Joe Hart put in one of the finest displays of English goalkeeping in living memory.”
Nick Miller – ESPN FC: “Joe Hart was simply phenomenal in the Camp Nou, stopping countless one-on-ones as Barcelona sliced through the Manchester City defence like it was warm Camembert only to come up against the rock-hard gruyere of the keeper.”
Stu Brennan – MEN: “Defied Barca single-handedly at times in the second half, with a masterclass of goalkeeping in one-on-one situations 10/10.”
David McDonnell – Mirror: “Produced a series of fine saves and kept City's hopes alive with an inspired display.”
His peers said…
Shay Given on Twitter: “Shame for @MCFC going out but @FCBarcelona amazing team, Joe Hart was brilliant #BarcavManCity”
Gary Lineker: “A truly astonishing goalkeeping performance from Joe Hart.”
Francis Lee: “Joe Hart has been absolutely fabulous tonight.”
James Milner: “There’s not too many words you can say - incredible really. He’s shown what a great keeper he is and it’s not the first time he’s done that for us in Europe.”
Lionel Messi: "Hart is a phenomenon, he saved everything today. I think we did everything to deserve a lot more, we had a lot of clear chances but the keeper had a brilliant game. We can only congratulate him.”
Andres Iniesta: "I don't remember a game with that many saves. It was incredible. We congratulated Hart."
"Sad for Joe to be on the losing side #cityview" - @msmcfc