Barcelona knocked Manchester City out of the UEFA Champions League, but Joe Hart was absolutely fantastic

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Joe Hart’s been the recipient of some harsh judgments of his play over the past few years, deserved or not, so let’s make sure this doesn’t get lost in the rubble of Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday.

England’s first-choice keeper was simply brilliant.

[ MATCH RECAP: Barcelona 1-0 (3-1) Man City ]

We’re talking close to the club version of Tim Howard versus Belgium at the World Cup here, as Hart kept Manchester City in the match far longer than the field players’ performances deserved.

He denied Luis Suarez like it was his job, and made several saves on Lionel Messi, Neymar and others as well. By the time it ended with 1-0 on the Camp Nou scoreboard and 3-1 on aggregate, the Premier League was out of the Champions League but Hart had played out of his gourd.

From Sky Sports:

“We’ve gone out to a magnificent side for the second time in two years. They will get a lot of plaudits but we had a big chance with the penalty. We hung in there and didn’t take it.

“It’s unfortunate that I saved a penalty from Lionel Messi and it didn’t count in the end. I’m in there to make saves and they hit me a lot of times tonight. I was busy, it was definitely busy. I just tried to smother them, they are always looking for a pass and you have to try and make them rush. I don’t know how Neymar’s chance stayed out at the start.”

Perhaps teammate James Milner said it better than his keeper: “Joe Hart was incredible. He’s shown what a great goalkeeper he is. It could have been out of sight but he was amazing tonight. We didn’t show our best over both legs for long enough.”

Spot-on, James. Not boring at all.