'We could easily be in the final' - Man City's Joe Hart takes rose-tinted view of Champions League exit
Despite an overwhelming consensus of expert opinion to the contrary, Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart believes Real Madrid were fortunate to beat his team in last night’s Champions League semi-final.
Unlike Atletico Madrid’s dramatic win over Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s other Champions League penultimate round tie, Real’s 1-0 victory over a decidedly pedestrian City will soon fade from the memory.
Even the game deciding goal lacked glamour, as Gareth Bale’s cross deflected off Fernando and beyond Hart after 20 minutes.
Indeed, Zinedine Zidane’s charges were far from eye-catching and did just enough to set up a second Champions League decider in three years with their city rivals.
Analysts including Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, Didi Hamann and, of course, Eamon Dunphy, all lambasted Manuel Pellegrini’s outfit in the aftermath of their ignominious exit from Europe’s top competition.
Interestingly, England stopper Hart, who arguably had the most revealing view of proceedings at the Bernabeu, was not in agreement with the pundits.
“Real Madrid created very little over the two legs, so did we in fairness. It was a close semi-final and we have come out the wrong side of it,” he told BT Sport.
“We could easily be in the final. They managed the game well but they have beaten us with a lucky goal. It is what it is.”
There had been a notion, albeit a short-lived one, that in beating PSG so convincingly in the quarter finals, Manchester City had finally demonstrated the ability to compete with, and beat, Europe’s elite.
However, with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and the staggeringly overpriced Raheem Sterling all virtually anonymous on a night when the club might have made history, it’s clear that the incoming Pep Guardiola has a massive task ahead of him.
Yet Hart claimed to be unsure whether or not City’s effort had been sufficient to warrant a trip to the San Siro later this month to face Diego Simeone’s ferocious band of workhorses, who might just be the antithesis to the Manchester plutocrats.
“They couldn't kill it off. We defended well when needed to. We just didn't have enough. Did we do enough to win the game? I don't know.”