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Premier League

  • 26 December 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Referee: L. Mason
  • • Attendance: 25938

West Brom 0-0 Manchester City: Premier League leaders lose advantage over United at the top after failing to break down hosts

West Brom 0-0 Manchester City: Premier League leaders lose advantage over United at the top after failing to break down hosts

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Roberto Mancini's men remain first due to goal difference, yet were frustrated by a resilient home side at the Hawthorns, with Roy Hodgson's men having chances to snatch victory

Manchester City were unable to score in a Premier League game for the first time this season as West Brom managed to hold the leaders to a goalless draw at the Hawthorns.

The first-half saw David Silva spurn a chance to open the scoring, while Shane Long managed to miss a header in the second period that could have seen his side register a famous victory.

Baggies' boss Roy Hodgson was unable to call upon the services of midfielder James Morrison, who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury that also saw him miss the 3-2 victory over Newcastle United on Wednesday.

Youssouf Mulumbu and Jerome Thomas were major doubts due to groin and ankle problems respectively, but both players were able to make the starting line-up. Steven Reid - who has been ruled out for a month due to injury - was replaced by Billy Jones at right-back.

Roberto Mancini made four changes from the side that beat Stoke 3-0 in midweek as Mario Balotelli returned to the starting line-up, while Kolo Toure, Pablo Zabaleta and James Milner were also given a look in.

Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson were left out, with the full-back not included in the squad due to injury.

The hosts had not won on Boxing Day for five years, however, that did not stop Roy Hodgson's side from starting brightly, as Chris Brunt looked to test Joe Hart from 25 yards, but his effort glanced just wide of the post.

Yet the pattern of the game was established within the first 10 minutes, as Mancini's men pressed while the Baggies defended deep. The visitors early dominance demonstrated by Gael Clichy, who found Milner unmarked, but the midfielder headed wide of the target.

The first genuine effort on goal came after 17 minutes, when Paul Scharner's right-footed shot produced a save from Hart. From the resulting corner, the Baggies had a series of shots blocked before the ball was eventually cleared and the danger subsided.

City had a great opportunity to break the deadlock when Sergio Aguero cut in from the left and played through to Silva in the area, yet the Spanish international was unable to keep his shot on target as he blasted over the bar.

A little past the 30-minute mark, Balotelli managed to find the back of the net after the ball fell to him following a shot from Silva. But the linesman adjudged the Italian to have been in an offside position as the scores remained level.

No Silva Lining | Spaniard missed an excellent opportunity to open the scoring

Ten minutes into the second period, Balotelli then initially appeared to send in a cross, but decided to go for glory instead. His curling shot caught goalkeeper Ben Foster off his line and almost led to a sensational goal, but the crossbar saved West Brom.

An error from Toure then saw Thomas send in a superb cross that Long should have converted, but the forward's header somehow managed to miss the target, despite the former Reading man finding himself in acres of space at the backpost.

A little past the hour mark, Milner headed a cross into the box for Aguero, but a vital tackle from Gareth McAuley saved the day just as the Argentine looked to pull the trigger.

With only a little over 15 minutes left, the game became stretched as the Baggies began to slowly move forward in search of a goal. Odemwingie set up Scharner for a shot from 20 yards, with the Austrian's low and driven effort beating Hart in goal but not the post.

Mulumbu pulled up with a problem with 10 minutes remaining, and Graham Dorrans replaced the former Paris Saint-Germain man. Meanwhile, Mancini introduced Johnson in place of Aguero, while Edin Dzeko came on for Milner.

The visitors had scored in every Premier League game prior to this one, yet they could not maintain their record as the Baggies held tight to ensure a point on home turf.

The result leaves City level on points with rivals Manchester United, but maintain their position at the top of the Premier League thanks to their superior goal difference.
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