Joe Hart revelled in his spectacular performance that enabled Manchester City to escape an embarrassing Champions League drubbing at the hands of Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, comparing it to being "peppered by your mates" while playing in the park.
The England goalkeeper produced a string of saves to prevent the German champions establishing an unassailable lead before Mario Balotelli's 90th -minute penalty levelled the score and even after that Hart produced one further intervention to deny Robert Lewandowski and save City.
"I don't feel I do a great deal in a Man City shirt so when required I like to step up," said Hart. "Was it my best performance for City? I don't know about that. All I know is it got us a point and keeps us in the running for this group. It all happened so quickly. I enjoyed it because I just love playing football. It was almost like being down at the park and being peppered by your mates."
His team-mates cannot have taken so much satisfaction from a chastening evening on their home turf. With one point from two games – three fewer than Dortmund – City are facing a second successive season of struggling to escape from the group stage. Their debut season in the Champions League last year saw them finish third in their group behind Napoli and Bayern Munich.
"These nights create drama," said Hart, who for all his consistency is still to keep a clean sheet this season as the City defence has fallen short of their title-winning standards. "The competition creates drama. Under the lights, the music, the Champions League badge on – games just have a different feel. We are in with the big boys now and there is no place to hide. There is no point in learning if you are not going to win. But we are still alive in the group. Hopefully that wasn't a wasted effort.
"We can't lie, we weren't great. We were a bit open but we did create chances. They are a very good side though – I was really impressed with them. How they can be a pot four side in the Champions League just shows what a strong group it is."
City's next two games are against Ajax, who are without a point after their heavy home defeat by Real Madrid. First comes a trip to Amsterdam on 26 October before the Dutch champions travel to Manchester next month, and defender Pablo Zabaleta accepts City will have to win both if they are to challenge the top two. City finish with a home game against Real before a trip to Germany.
"We are in the 'Group of Death' so there are no easy games," said the Argentine. "To get through we need to win away at Ajax and then beat them at home if we want to stand a chance. We threw away two points in the Real game and [against Dortmund] didn't play our best game. But it's time to be positive. We know we can play better and need to work hard."
Hart in figures
11 Saves by Hart against Dortmund on Wednesday.
720 Minutes played this season, conceding 12 goals in 8 games.
2 Only Cluj's Mario Felgueiras has made more saves in the CL this season.
22 Shots on target faced by Hart in the CL – three more than any other keeper.Reuse content