Premier League - City and Liverpool share draw

Eurosport - Thu, 18 Feb 17:00:00 2010

Manchester City and Liverpool shared a goalless draw at Eastlands as neither side was able to stamp their authority on the race for fourth spot in the Premier League.

Manchester City's Emmanuel Adebayor (left) and Liverpool's Leiva Lucas (right) in action - 0

In a match which promised much but delivered little, both teams engaged in a midfield battle with clear-cut chances at a premium. Emmanuel Adebayor had the best of the opportunities late in the second half.

Striker Fernando Torres was a substitute for Liverpool on his return after a month out with a knee injury while Craig Bellamy was confined to the City bench, but neither could make an impact as substitutes in a drab second half.

Previously out of favour Ryan Babel was handed a rare starting berth by Rafael Benitez, and the winger made fleeting contributions as he and Steven Gerrard combined down the right in the ninth minute, only for Maxi Rodriguez to slide agonisingly short of converting a low cross inside the City six-yard box.

The first half was played at a frantic pace as the play lurched from one end to the other, and City wingers Adam Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips swapped flanks to regularly cause havoc in the Liverpool half - but Adebayor cut a frustrated figure as the lone striker.

City almost capitalised on some sloppy goalkeeping from Jose Reina as the Spaniard dallied after receiving a back-pass from Jamie Carragher in the 42nd minute but, after clearing tamely out to Adebayor, Stephen Ireland made a hash of his effort inside the Liverpool box.

In a chaotic end to the first half, Liverpool were awarded a flurry of corners, the second of which infuriated the City players after deflecting off Rodriguez - and Liverpool almost compounded their hosts' frustration but for a tame header by Martin Skrtel as he met Gerrard's pinpoint delivery.

All eyes were trained on the touchline at the start of the second half, but both managers resisted the temptation to introduce their returning stars, with Torres rousing the travelling fans at every appearance on the sidelines.

The rain teemed down in a scrappy opening to the second half as both sides looked to settle, but neither was able to muster any clear-cut chances until the hour mark.

Adebayor almost gave City the lead in the 62nd minute as the striker took the ball down crisply into his stride before lashing a rasping volley towards Reina's near post, the Spaniard making a fine save down low to his right.

Bellamy was introduced by Roberto Mancini in the 68th minute to a rapturous reception from the Eastlands crowd, but a string of bookings ensured that the play continued to be fragmented.

Then it was the turn of Torres to make his entrance in the 74th minute as the atmosphere was temporarily livened once more before Kuyt became the sixth player to be booked for a disgusting challenge on Nigel de Jong, with the Dutchman fortunate to stay on the field.

From the 80th minute, a five-minute episode of the Adebayor show ensued as the striker contrived to squander two glorious chances, and could well have won a penalty for his side.

First the striker streaked clear on goal after he flicked the ball past Skrtel, but the defender recovered his composure superbly to make a last-ditch intervention and deny him a shooting opportunity.

A minute later the forward rose imperiously to meet Johnson's dinked cross from the right, but he headed agonisingly over the crossbar with Reina stranded as the home fans collectively sighed in frustration.

Daniel Agger and Adebayor had engaged in a persistent tussle all game, and the striker went down under a robust challenge from the Dane inside the Liverpool penalty area as Barry clipped in a precise delivery. But after a dubious point in the vague direction of the penalty spot, it emerged that referee Peter Walton decided against awarding an 84th-minute spot kick.

Benitez was furious on the touchline after substitute Yossi Benayoun was barged uncompromisingly by Pablo Zabaleta; the Israeli kept his balance and no penalty was awarded.

It is 18 years since City finished ahead of Liverpool in the table, but Mancini's side remain a point above the Reds in fifth spot as a result of the stalemate.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account