Not even Hart’s masterclass can rescue City as England’s Champions League hopes end

Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart, center, and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany, right, save against Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left.
Manchester City's goalkeeper Joe Hart, center, and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany, right, save against Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left.
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Joe Hart was full of praise for Barcelona but could not hide his disappointment as Manchester City exited the Champions League with a 1-0 defeat in Catalonia.

Hart put in an outstanding performance to keep the score down but Lionel Messi was at his brilliant best and Ivan Rakitic scored in the 31st minute to hand Barcelona a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Sergio Aguero also missed a late penalty for City, mirroring Messi in the first leg, and Hart felt his team-mate’s failure from 12 yards was crucial.

“We’ve gone out to a magnificent side,” Hart said. “But that’s the second time in two years which is disappointing for us.

“They’re going to get a lot of plaudits for how they play, they’ve got fantastic players, but we had a big chance, we hung on in there and we had a big chance but unfortunately we couldn’t take it.

“I suppose you could say they had a chance to finish us off in the first game and they didn’t take it but that’s how football goes.”

Hart made a string of impressive saves, especially in the second half, and midfielder James Milner was full of praise for his team-mate’s performance.

“There are not too many words you can say,” Milner said. “It’s incredible really.

“He’s showed again what a great keeper he is and it’s not the first time he’s done that for us in Europe. He gave us that chance with the penalty (in the first leg). They could have been out of sight by then and he gave us a chance to still be in it.

“He was amazing tonight and deserves everything that gets said about him.”

Hart added: “It was busy. I just tried to smother them as best I could because I know full well they’re thinking they’ve got to pass at all times.

“I tried to rush him for the goal, I thought he took it well. From there my job is to rush them, with quality players it’s difficult to do sometimes, and I got a bit of luck on my side. I don’t know how Neymar’s stayed out in the first minute but that’s football. We did our best to stay in it and were just unfortunate tonight.”

City boss Manuel Pellegrini was pleased with his team’s second-half performance but admitted they were beaten by a superior side.

“I thought we lost against a better team,” he said.

“I think that we didn’t make a good first half but we improved a lot in the second half. But high risk of course because we know that we have to score two goals.

“Maybe we are always still thinking (about) what happened if we scored the penalty but we didn’t.”

He added: “All of us want to continue in the Champions League. I think that we need to improve in Europe, maybe in the last two years we improved because we advanced to the round of 16.

“We were very unlucky to both (times) play against Barcelona.

“To be successful in Europe we must improve.

“I also think maybe this was not our best year (chance) to continue in Europe, we have important restrictions about (the) amount of players and amount of money that we can spend so it was a difficult year for our team.”