Joe Hart produced stunning saves to boost Man City's title hopes, says Graeme Souness
Last Updated: 03/05/14 8:38pm
Hart: England number one was key to win at Everton, says Souness
Graeme Souness reckons Joe Hart may have clinched the Premier League title for Manchester City with two stunning saves in their 3-2 win at Everton.
While an Edin Dzeko double and Sergio Aguero's drive gave City the goals they needed to overhaul a testing Everton side, Souness picked out the England number one as the key figure in the contest.
"That save might just have won them the league."
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.
The victory puts City top of the Premier League, due to their superior goal difference over Liverpool, and means home wins over Aston Villa and West Ham will almost certainly seal their second title in three years.
However, Souness says Hart deserves to be held up for praise for the part he played on Saturday Night Football.
"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."
Jamie Redknapp was equally impressed with the City shot-stopper and pointed out Hart has shown impressive resolve to bounce back from being dropped earlier in the season by boss Manuel Pellegrini.
After a month on the sidelines, Hart returned to the fold and Redknapp says he hasn't looked back since.
"Earlier in the season Costel Pantilimon went in instead of him and it looked like he might find himself surplus to requirements," said the Sky Sports pundit.
"There was talk of another goalkeeper coming in but Joe showed he's still one of the best in the world because he's come back and reacted exactly the way you want.
"A lot of goalkeepers might have thought 'this isn't for me' but he's been brilliant. Anything can happen but those big moments win you titles."
Although Souness says City shouldn't assume they'll now be champions, he conceded they are in a great position, with two games to go.
Premier League top two
Man City - 80pts +59
nLiverpool - 80pts +50
Pellegrini's men were far from their best against Everton, but Souness reckons their big-name talent shone through in the end - and have put the title race in their hands.
"City think they've done the hardest part, which is winning here today," he said. "But go back two years, they were playing a team that were near the bottom of the Premier League, a home game with QPR for the championship, and they won it in the very last minute.
"You just never know - but you have to believe they've done the hard part now. It's so much in their hands.
"They weren't convincing today; they've staggered over the line. They weren't convincing for large parts of that but the quality they have in certain places will win them games when they're not bang at it.
"They weren't bang at it today and they allowed the game to drift in the second half - but they won 3-2."