Premier League: Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini hails Joe Hart's return to form
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini believes Joe Hart's form has benefited from his spell on the sidelines.
Last Updated: 05/05/14 4:01pm
After several high-profile mistakes cost City valuable points in their title charge, the Chilean chief took the bold step of dropping the England goalkeeper from the first team.
However, since returning to the fray, Hart has been rejuvenated, and the controversial decision to omit him now seems like a masterstroke.
"Of course I think not only today, the second round of Joe has been a very good performance," Pellegrini told the Manchester Evening News.
"One of the good things that we did this year was to talk to him and sit him (out) some games because he was in a very bad moment but he reacted as a professional player, the number one in England."
Hart's performance in the 3-2 win at Everton was a major factor in City returning to the top of the Premier League for the first time since February, but Pellegrini warned there is still work to be done if they are to emerge champions in two games' time.
"It was not exactly (the same as 2012) but similar," Pellegrini added.
"I think we are just thinking about what happened this year that we have an important option to win the title.
"In football you always have chances. I repeat, when we win the game today it was a very tough game, but it's not the last game."
Hart also earned praise from Sky Sports' Graeme Souness following his Saturday Night Football performance.
Hart first got fingertips to a close-range Steven Naismith effort at 2-1 to the visitors - moments before City scored their third - and then kept out a fierce Gerard Deulofeu strike at 3-2 in the dying minutes.
"Generally when you talk about goalkeepers you're being critical of them. But this save might just have won them the league," he said, referring to the 27-year-old's first stop.
"Ross Barkley played a great little ball for Naismith, Joe comes out, makes himself big, gets his timing right when he goes to ground and gets the tips of his fingers on it. It's a great save.
"If that goes in it is 2-2 but instead, two minutes later, they go 3-1 up.
"Then the second save from Deulofeu at 3-2 was a great stop - although the defending was poor before that.
"Hart should have got all the credit. As well as the goals going in at one end, he has certainly done the business for them today."
Hart seems certain to go to the World Cup as England's first choice keeper - and skysports.com users have had no hesitation in picking him for Brazil using the England Squad Selector.
Hart has proved the most selected player, making 284,000 of your squads.