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Lionel Messi hails 'phenomenal' Manchester City keeper Joe Hart

Joe Hart denied Lionel Messi on multiple occassions at the Nou Camp
Image: Joe Hart denied Lionel Messi on multiple occasions at the Nou Camp

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has hailed England goalkeeper Joe Hart after their Champions League last-16 victory over Manchester City on Wednesday.

The Argentine attacker says the 27-year-old was “phenomenal” as he pulled off a string of fine saves to confine the Catalonians to a 1-0 second-leg win and a 3-1 score on aggregate.

Ivan Rakitic scored the only goal at the Nou Camp but Luis Suarez was seen praising Hart during the second half after he denied the Uruguayan with a superb stop late on.

And Barcelona’s players queued up to heap praise on Hart, who is set to be named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad on Thursday.

Messi said: “He was phenomenal, he stopped everything. We have to congratulate him on a great game because he's a fantastic goalkeeper."

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Andres Iniesta said: "Hart was key to keeping them in it and was great in one-on-one situations. He was outstanding.”

And Barca head coach Luis Enrique said: “The score could have been a rout but Hart was incredible and we weren't really on towards the end.

"We had a lot of chances, which is not normal in this type of game. We deserved to win by a bigger goal difference.”

Barcelona now turn their attention to El Clasico against Real Madrid, which is live on Sky Sports 5HD from 7.30pm on Sunday.

“We have a lot of respect for this game. They're never in bad shape; they're still dangerous, with impressive individual players and we need to respect them more than ever,” Messi said.

“They are very strong, we have to play our game and, with the help of our fans, try to overcome them. We're back at a high level and we have to keep it going as long as possible.”

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