A stunned Roberto Mancini conceded that his Manchester City side are not as good as Borussia Dortmund after they stole a 1-1 draw at Eastlands on Wednesday.
Mario Balotelli scored a 90th-minute penalty to earn City their first point of the campaign, but only after the referee had given what appeared to be a harsh handball inside the Dortmund area. Prior to that moment, Dortmund could have led by six or seven goals but for an inspired showing from City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
"We didn't deserve this point," Mancini told Sky Sports. "Dortmund played better than us and at the moment are a better team than us. We have to fight hard for every ball, we have to fight and to run. We have good players, but Borussia are more experienced than us."
He added: "Joe saved us. He did very very well. They were unlucky."
Asked about the penalty decision that led to City's equaliser, given when Sergio Aguero hooked the ball directly at Neven Subotic's hand, Mancini said: "Maybe no [it wasn't a penalty], but I'm very happy to get it.
"I have confidence that if we don't improve it will be difficult to qualify. But this point could be like when we drew [3-3] with Sunderland [last season]. We fought back, and at the end of the season it was important. This could be an important point."
Hart defended Mancini's tactics after the City boss saw his decision to switch from a back four to a back three result in a Dortmund goal.
"They were getting chances when it was three at the back, four at the back, ten at the back. We've got to be happy with a point. It could have been 10-10, their keeper was fantastic and both sides had a lot of chances."
Hart made a catalogue of top drawer saves to keep City in the game, and he was rewarded by Balotelli's late equaliser. Asked if he had ever made so many saves in a City shirt, Hart struggled to recall such an occasion.
"Not off the top of my head. Dortmund were different class tonight," he said. "I hope it wasn't a wasted effort, I think this shows what a tough group we're in. But Mario's never going to miss the penalty. We pushed hard, we needed a point, we've come out alive and the group is still alive for us."