Manchester City held by West Brom
West Brom 0 Manchester City 0
Monday 26 December 2011
Manchester City saw their two-point advantage at the top of the Barclays Premier League wiped out as they were frustrated at West Brom this afternoon.
Mario Balotelli hit the bar and had a goal disallowed but City lacked their usual bite at The Hawthorns and were forced to settle for a goalless draw.
It could even have been worse for Roberto Mancini's men as Albion rose to the challenge and were unlucky when Jerome Thomas hit the post and Shane Long headed wide.
Mancini had tried to freshen up his City side by making four changes, including recalling the mercurial Balotelli on a ground where he scored twice and got sent off last season.
Kolo Toure, Pablo Zabaleta and James Milner also came in but West Brom were not intimidated and continually frustrated their star-studded visitors.
Roy Hodgson's side were clearly buoyed by their thrilling win at Newcastle last time out and went close inside the opening three minutes.
Thomas brought the ball forward and Chris Brunt turned outside the area to fire across goal with a powerful left-foot drive.
City tried to assert their authority after that scare but had to wait patiently for chances to open up.
Samir Nasri had a volley blocked by Jonas Olsson - although the attempt was possibly going wide - and the Frenchman also shot tamely at Ben Foster from distance.
West Brom continued to pose a threat and Paul Scharner tried his luck with a low shot from 25 yards which, after a slight deflection, was turned behind by Joe Hart.
City should have taken the lead after 24 minutes when Sergio Aguero laid off for David Silva from a fine cross-field Nasri pass but the Spaniard side-footed over.
Balotelli got involved in the game when he won a free-kick outside the area and, much to his frustration, then stepped up to have a low shot deflected narrowly wide.
City then had two corners in quick succession and could have scored from the second of them when Yaya Toure put a free header wide.
City tried to pick up the tempo and Balotelli was unlucky when a Silva shot was deflected into his path and he volleyed in, only to see an offside flag raised.
West Brom threatened again on the counter-attack when Brunt found space on the left to curl in a dangerous cross for Long but Vincent Kompany slid in to make a vital interception.
Balotelli went down with a head injury after a clash with Peter Odemwingie just before the break but the Italian recovered and was soon back in the action.
Balotelli drew a foul from Olsson in a dangerous position early in the second half.
City made little from the free-kick but had a good spell of possession and Balotelli struck the top of the bar with a superb effort from 30 yards wide on the left.
West Brom may have been starved of the ball at times but looked comfortable when they had it and Kompany again got his body in the way as Odemwingie shot from 35 yards.
Long spurned a glorious chance just before the hour when City failed to clear and the ball was drilled to the back post but the Baggies striker headed wide from six yards.
City tried to show some urgency in response but Silva was unable to capitalise on some neat interplay and shot straight at Foster.
Aguero, perhaps surprised to be given onside from a Milner header, then miskicked attempting to toe-poke past Foster and Gareth McAuley cleared.
Albion had another chance from a free-kick but Brunt fired wide.
City appeared to be getting frustrated as Kolo Toure shot over and substitute Gareth Barry screwed another effort well wide.
West Brom were again unfortunate when Odemwingie teed up Thomas just outside the area and the midfielder struck a sweet shot against the foot of the post.
City changed their attack by sending on Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko and were denied with five minutes remaining when Olsson blocked from Silva.
Dzeko found space in injury time but shot well over the bar and West Brom claimed a deserved point.
Latest in Sport
Newcastle 0 Manchester United 1: Louis van Gaal describes performance as 'maybe our best match of the season'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Liverpool vs Burnley match report: Reds extend their run after Jordan Henderson's stunning opening strike
Newcastle vs Manchester United match report: Ashley Young scores late winner as Angel Di Maria fails to shine yet again
Brooklyn Beckham to be released: Why Arsenal could regret letting David Beckham's son depart
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin