MAN CITY 1, BORUSSIA DORTMUND 1
A late penalty from substitute Mario Balotelli earned Manchester City an important first point of their Champions League campaign at home to Borussia Dortmund.
But with only one point from a possible six, City have an enormous amount to do in their four remaining games if they are to reach the knockout phase.
It was a terrific spectacle at the Etihad Stadium where both goalkeepers played blinders.
City would have suffered a second successive defeat but for the heroics of Joe Hart who proved yet again why he is England’s No 1.
Hart, who thought the final scoreline could have been 10-10, was delighted with the draw claiming it could be vital.
“We’ve got to be happy with a point. We kept ourselves alive in the group. I think Borussia Dortmund were a different class tonight,” he said.
Equally impressive, however, was Borussia’s Roman Weidenfeller who denied City time and time again in the opening period.
Roberto Mancini admitted his side was second best conceding they were lucky to pick up a point.
City’s manager said: “We didn’t play well and I am disappointed with our performance. We didn’t deserve to take this point, but in the end in our group it could be important.
“Borussia Dortmund were better than us and at this moment they are a better side. I knew before the game it was going to be difficult as Dortmund have more Champions League experience than us.”
Mancini admitted his keeper was the key to avoiding defeat.
He continued: “Thank you to Joe Hart who saved us from an incredible defeat. He did a fantastic performance.
“I don’t know if it was the best in history, but he did very well.”
Mancini hinted that defence remains their Achilles heel as they have failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 competitive matches this season.
“I know the problem and will solve it very quickly. If we don’t improve, it will be difficult to qualify, but this point could be important,” he admitted.
Mancini added that City had three or four “incredible” chances in the opening period.
He continued: “The Champions League is totally different to the Championship as you are playing against the best players.
“When you have chances, you need to score because, when you then concede like we did, it is difficult to win.”
It was a remarkably open first 45 minutes in which both keepers were on the top of their games.
Weidenfeller pulled off fabulous saves to deny Samir Nasri in the opening seconds and then three times to thwart Sergio Aguero.
David Silva missed a sitter volleying over from four yards while there was an early shout for a penalty after a clumsy challenge on Aguero.
It was far from one-way traffic as the Germans showed why they are the reigning Bundesliga champions.
Mario Gotze was twice denied by the frame of the goal, though each time Hart managed to divert each effort on to the woodwork.
Hart made another good stop to deny German international Gotze and Ilkay Gundogan while Neven Subotic.
Gotze remained Borussia’s main offensive threat after the break bringing another fine fingertip save from Hart.
And the Germans snatched the lead in the 62nd minute following a misplaced plass from substitute Jack Rodwell as Reus raced through the centre of goal to finally beat Hart.
Borussia would have doubled their advantage midway through the half but for two brilliant saves in quick succession from Hart to turn away a goalbound shot from Reus and tip over Gundogan’s effort which was destined for the top corner.
The Germans ought to have sealed victory with 14 minutes left when Robert Lewandowski was put clean through only to inexplicably shoot wide with only Hart to beat.
Weidenfeller pulled off another important save to deny Aguero before City were ‘handed’ a late lifeline.
They were awarded an 88th penalty after a handball by Subotic and substitute Balotelli coolly slotted the ball past Weidenfeller.
There was further drama in stoppage time when Hart pulled off yet another stupendous save to turn Lewandowski’s shot round the post for a corner.