Joe Hart kept Manchester City’s hopes of reaching their first Champions League final alive with two brilliant late saves that ensured their semi-final first leg with Real Madrid finished goalless at the Etihad Stadium this evening.
With star striker Cristiano Ronaldo missing because of a thigh injury, a cautious Real side offered little goal threat until the closing stages.
But in the last 20 minutes, Jese headed against the bar for the Spanish side before Hart brilliantly denied Casemiro and Pepe from corners.
Hart showed great reactions to keep out Casemiro’s header with his foot but his block to deny Pepe, who was unmarked and five yards from goal, is the standout reason City will travel to Spain next week with a precious clean sheet.
The closest City came to a goal of their own was when Keylor Navas tipped over Kevin de Bruyne’s dipping free-kick in stoppage time.
That was Navas’ only save of a game that was billed as a shootout between two attacking sides but was, in fact, a game largely devoid of goalmouth action.
City will take the positives from denying Real an away goal but England’s last remaining representatives in Europe’s elite competition still face a huge task if they are to reach the final, in Milan on May 28.
Their failure to score at home means former Real boss Manuel Pellegrini does not have a lead to take back to the Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane’s side have not conceded a goal in the Champions League all season.