Manchester City 0 Sheffield Utd 0: Woodwork stops Hulse cheering homesick Blades

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The Independent Online

Manchester City have yet to concede at home this season while Sheffield United have still not scored away. But that only explains half the story of a sub-standard affair at the City of Manchester Stadium yesterday.

There were two principal reasons why this game finished goalless: one was Georgios Samaras and the other Bernardo Corradi. City's hapless strikers should have scored at least once each and might even have had a hat-trick apiece. As it was, United would have been celebrating their first Premiership away win since April 1994 had either Rob Hulse's overhead kick that struck the crossbar, or Alan Quinn's powerful shot that flew narrowly over, been just a few inches lower.

City did create some good opportunities of their own so a draw was probably a fair result, albeit one that suited the team from Yorkshire much more than their trans-Pennine opponents. "I'm a little bit disappointed with our performance but I can't claim we deserved to win," said Stuart Pearce, the City manager.

The first half was decidedly poor. United had adopted City's own away policy of playing five across midfield which hardly helped the game to flow, but it was Pearce's men, as the home side, who were more to blame.

More than 20 minutes had passed before either side threatened. Joey Barton's free-kick was met by Corradi, whose first-time volley lacked conviction. Five minutes later, from an identical source, Corradi failed to guide a free header towards the corner.

At least when Dietmar Hamann, on his 200th Premiership start, put Samaras through Paddy Kenny was called into action, albeit to save routinely. But the best chance of the game came the Blades' way at the end of the first half when Leigh Bromby's long throw was met by Claude Davis. He headed towards goal and Hulse's overhead kick looped onto the crossbar.

City's out-of-sorts strikers created a chance of their own - Corradi feeding Samaras who took an age to shoot weakly - before Hatem Trabelsi's 50-yard scamper culminated in a tempting cross that Corradi headed straight at Kenny. The rebound fell to Samaras, upon which the Greek skewed an admittedly awkward chance high and wide.

Still, Neil Warnock's team gave as good as they got, and the City faithful held their collective breath as Quinn met Gillespie's cross only to send a thunderous drive a matter of inches too high. City did impart some late pressure but even as late as injury-time, United were still breaking with real intent. On this evidence, Hulse and Co will break their away duck before Samaras and Corradi find the back of the net.

"I'm actually a little bit disappointed that we didn't take three points," said Warnock. "If anyone was going to score it was us. We just needed to be a little bit more ruthless but I was quietly pleased throughout the game with how we played."

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