Joe Hart once again saved Manchester City from greater embarrassment and then criticised a lack of spirit among his team-mates in tonight's defeat in Dortmund.
In the first match against the German champions at the Etihad Stadium, the England goalkeeper had made half a dozen top-class saves before Mario Balotelli's last-minute penalty earned an unlikely point in a 1-1 draw.
Tonight Hart was outstanding again and while every other City player refused to speak to national media after the game, he said of the team's spirit: "I think it was there and they scored and it disappeared, which is a shame because we can come from behind. There was a hunger to win. But we've got bigger issues than that. We should be winning against a weakened side tonight. We should definitely be fighting on the last day."
He denied, however, that losing again and finishing bottom of the group would affect morale or performance in the crucial Premier League derby against Manchester United on Sunday. "No. we've shown that we've been inconsistent in Europe and fantastic in the League," Hart said. "We've got to address this. Hopefully win the League and we can address it again next year."
It is not the first time that Hart has been outspoken after a disappointing result in the Champions League. On one previous occasion Roberto Mancini responded that he should concentrate on his own job. Last night the City manager tried to look on the bright side of European life, agreeing that his team may gain an advantage over United by not having the extra fixtures that qualifying for the Europa League would have meant. "It could be," he said, "because we don't play Thursdays. But United are used to playing Champions League every year."
He agreed with Hart that morale would not be a problem because "we didn't lose the Champions League tonight," adding: "We have five days to recover our strength."
"I think last season we did better," he said, referring to when City went out after gaining 10 points. "This year we had a very difficult group but if you make mistakes in the first two or three games it is difficult."
"The Champions League can be strange," he added. "Borussia last year went out in the group stages and like us were in fourth place, and I think this year they can win the Champions League."
Ciy’s record of three draws and three defeats in the group stage was the worst-ever performance by an English club in the Champions League.