Up the striker sprang to slot past Yann Sommer and Manuel Pellegrinis team had got out of jail on a major scale.
For the second half Yaya Tour, who had been quiet and was lacking match fitness according to Pellegrini, was replaced by Fernando. There was a corner from which the ball dropped dangerously inside Citys area forcing Fernandinho to desperately charge a shot down.
After Harts goal had twice been threatened by balls in behind the defence, City showed the intent Pellegrini promised. Further slipshod marking meant Lars Stindl was in yards of space, and this time Hart was given no chance and City were in serious trouble.
Related: Manuel Pellegrini hails Sergio Ageros nerve after Manchester City win . Seconds after the break the Brazilian was again through on Citys goal and again Hart saved his team.
Could they respond? Would a difficult month end with another defeat? The answers came within 10 minutes. Less expert, though, was the strikers attempt which was hit straight at the keeper as he scrambled along his line.
On Saturday Otamendi was part of a defence that conceded four at Tottenham Hotspur. As with last years opening match defeat at Bayern Munich, this placed heightened emphasis on the second match. Kolarov delivered a corner that illustrated the former. If there was doubt here Raffael may have waited for the challenge Clment Turpin, the referee, had none. Borussia seemed able to wander through it at will. Then, Raffael waltzed through the City defence, rolled a reverse pass to Hermann, and this time Harts stop was even better as he rushed out to narrow the angle.
This was achieved, but only just. On his return to German soil, Kevin De Bruynes air-shot from his delivery illustrated the latter. It was compounded by the Belgians slip, which allowed Raffael to launch a counter-attack and the Brazilian raced towards Hart and slipped the ball to Patrick Herrmann, but his effort went wide.
Related: lvaro Morata on target again as Juventus too canny for Sevilla
Then, a 1-1 score turned into a 2-1 loss and City had again failed to get off to a flying start in the competition. Aleksandar Kolarov threaded a pass into Raheem Sterling who in turn squared across Sommer. The goalkeeper delayed Raffael by taking a drink, and when the Brazilian stepped up, Hart made a fine save diving to his right.
Finally, Andr Schuberts side got the opener they had threatened. We didnt play well today, we were disjointed as we had been in the last few games. After a corner came to nothing he launched a kick down the right to Agero. The officials failed to award a goal but Otamendi did finish via Andreas Christensen the on-loan Chelsea player adjudged to have scored an own-goal and City were level and relieved. As the clock ticked towards the break the keeper made a sharp save from the No11. After Agero rediscovered his poise at the death from the spot, relief turned to joy.
Related: Borussia Mnchengladbach v Manchester City: Champions League as it happened
It meant that despite not performing as they should from front to back the outstanding Joe Hart apart they ended with three points and their Group D qualifying campaign is up and running.
City can be crisp and slick in their play. Then, the misfiring Sergio Agero won a penalty after being felled by Fabian Johnson. Tonight he conceded an 18th-minute penalty for fouling Raffael, the forward skipping into the area before being brought down. But we deserved to win, we had some really good chances. Otamendi was about to have Hart to thank. Instead, the Belgian moved towards Agero, who was near the penalty spot, and the ball was delivered into the space De Bruyne had vacated.
Pellegrini praises Hart after Manchester City beat Borussia Mnchengladbach video
Hart was Citys best player in the first half, Raffael the home sides equivalent. Julian Korb was allowed to go unchallenged before he crossed from the right. They can also be sloppy. Twelve months ago Pellegrinis side had drawn with Roma, this time victory was the aim.
He was the only member of the rear-guard who was functioning as expected. The captains failure to recover was the biggest miss as Kompany had been in imperious form before limping out of the opening group game against Juventus.
As Borussia Mnchengladbach rued the miss, Hart remained focused. It may have come late but Sergio Agero is a cool guy and he will score.
The XI Pellegrini fielded was about the only one he could choose. De Bruyne was the next to miss an opening. The injuries to Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala, the first choice centre-backs, meant Nicols Otamendi and Martn Demichelis were again paired. De Bruyne swung over a corner from the right which struck Demicheliss knee and appeared to cross the line before being cleared. The game continued to be the Raffael-Hart show. It gave the centre-forward the opportunity to race clear, but for the second time, he spurned his chance.
Manchester City continue to confound. As Hart said: We always take the scenic route in Europe. He should have continued his run towards goal as Sterling crossed from the left. It found Agero expertly. They appeared to be heading for a night of frustration and a mere draw until the final minute
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