Messi, Enrique Laud Outstanding Joe Hart

Lionel Messi has described Joe Hart’s display as “absolutely fantastic” after the Manchester City goalkeeper produced torrents of saves in last night’s 1-0 defeat away to Barcelona FC.

Had the English goalkeeper not commanded some brave goalkeeping salvage at the Camp Nou, outcome of the Uefa Champions League round-of-16 second leg tie would have headlined an unfair mauling of the reigning Premier League champions.

“He saved everything,” said Messi. “We had a lot of clear chances but the keeper had a brilliant game.

Ivan Rakitic's 31st-Minute Strike Was the Only Dent to an Outstanding Display By Joe Hart at the Camp Nou. Image: Getty.
Ivan Rakitic’s 31st-Minute Strike Was the Only Dent to an Outstanding Display By Joe Hart at the Camp Nou. Image: Getty.

“We can only congratulate him, but the important thing is we achieved our objective to get through.”

Ivan Rakitic’s superb goal midway through the first half was the only dent to Hart’s display in a game Messi also described as “pretty spectacular,” as the Catalans sealed their passage to the quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate scores.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart Was the Reason Scores at the Camp Nou Was Not Like Barca 4-0 Man City. Image: AFP/Getty.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart Was the Reason Scores at the Camp Nou Was Not Like Barca 4-0 Man City. Image: AFP/Getty.

The 27-year-old, who also saved a penalty from Argentine forward in the first leg at Etihad Stadium, made 10 saves on the night.

“I had a lot to do, but I wanted it to count,” said Hart.

“Make no bones about it, Barcelona were the better team in both legs, but we hung on in there, defended and made saves, and made tackles.”

Joe Hart Was Equal to the Task Every Time He Was Called Upon at the Camp Nou, Except Once. Image: EPA.
Joe Hart Was Equal to the Task Every Time He Was Called Upon at the Camp Nou, Except Once. Image: EPA.

He added: “They (Barcelona) are a very good team, they know what they’re doing, they’ve got a lot of belief in what they do and they’ve got Lionel Messi.”

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique also lauded Hart, saying: “The score could have been a rout. Hart was incredible.

“We had a lot of chances, which is not normal in this type of game. We deserved to win by a bigger goal difference.”

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