Hart, Balotelli save City from defeat

Joe Hart, Manchester City goalkeeper

A late Mario Balotelli penalty and a brilliant performance from goalkeeper Joe Hart saw Manchester City salvage a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in their UEFA Champions League Group D match on Wednesday night.The English champions looked set for a second successive defeat in Europe after finding themselves 1-0 down at The Etihad thanks to Marco Reus’ second half goal, but a late spot kick saw them claim a share of the points.Balotelli may have scored the crucial goal, but Dortmund would have been out of sight were it not for an amazing showing from Hart, who made a string of superb saves to keep his team in the game all the way through.The first half was marked by some brilliant goalkeeping from both Hart and Roman Weidenfeller, with the two number ones producing some sensation stops to keep the score line blank in the first 45 minutes.Dortmund’s ‘keeper made three notable saves, all to deny the lively Sergio Aguero, within the first half hour of the match, as City looked dangerous whenever they surged forward.However, Dortmund were no shrinking violets themselves and Hart was kept very busy. He made three excellent saves from ‘wunderkind’ Mario Gotze, two of which he pushed onto the woodwork, as well as a brilliant reaction save from Iikay Gundogan in first half stoppage time.Hart made another good save early in the second half to once again frustrate Gotze, but he was unable to stop Marco Reus from opening the scoring just past the hour mark.The speedy attacker picked up a loose pass from substitute Jack Rodwell, raced through on goal and directed a shot beyond the City goalkeeper and into the back of the net to put Dortmund 1-0 up.

The German champions should have doubled their lead on 76 minutes when Gundogan played a stupendous low cross for striker Robert Lewandowski, but with Hart seemingly helpless he skewed the ball wide of the target.

That miss came back to haunt Dortmund late in the game when defender Neven Subotic was penalised for hand-ball in the 18-yard area, handing City a spot kick. Substitute Mario Balotelli coolly converted it to make the score 1-1.

Lewandowski almost restored the visitors’ advantage in injury time, but yet again Hart made a fantastic save to ensure his side claimed the first point of their Champions League campaign.