Premier League - Baggies hold leaders City
Manchester City failed to score in a Premier League fixture for the first time this season as they were held to a 0-0 draw by West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Though high-flying City had three times as many shots on target as their mid-table hosts, the draw was ultimately the fairest result in a game which came to life in the second period.
Both Jerome Thomas and Mario Balotelli struck the woodwork with spectacular drives from distance after the interval, but David Silva and Shane Long were left to rue missed sitters either side of the break which could have gained their side an extra two points.
West Brom now move into ninth place for the time being, albeit with several sides below them having a game in hand, while Manchester United's 5-0 rout of Wigan brings them level on points with their fierce local rivals with only a rapidly-diminishing goal difference separating the two sides.
The Baggies, who have a sub-par record on home turf as of late, looked determined to keep out City’s all-star front line from the get go and as a result the first concrete chance for Roberto Mancini’s troops didn’t come until the 24-minute mark.
Initiated by Yaya Toure’s inch-perfect cross-field pass, Sergio Aguero picked out Silva with a quick short pass from the left wing into the box, from which the Spaniard inexplicably fired over the bar when he should have at the very least tested Ben Foster in goal.
Five minutes after Balotelli drove a 20-yard free-kick directly into the defensive wall, his scuffed acrobatic volley found its way into the back of the net, only for the flag to go straight up as the Italian was offside at the time of Aguero’s assist.
Albion began to look content sitting back and waiting for opportunities to catch the Premier League leaders out on the counter, and almost did just that on 37 minutes.
Perhaps anticipating an element of frustration to seep into their opponents’ game for the second period, Albion played more openly and with extra added confidence following half-time.
However, they had a scare to overcome on 54 minutes when Balotelli went for goal from a seemingly innocuous position out on the left-hand flank and rattled the crossbar with a wicked dipping drive.
Complacency at the other end meant City had to endure a sustained counter from the home side, and shortly before the hour mark Thomas launched a dangerous cross from which Long somehow headed wide of the post from point-blank range.
Gareth McAuley did superbly to deny Aguero a one-on-one with Foster shortly before Brunt narrowly missed the target from a free-kick just outside the box as both sides sought what would probably be the winner.
And with 17 minutes left, Thomas tried his luck from distance after being teed up by Odemwingie’s strong hold-up play and left a stadium’s worth of hearts firmly in mouths when his low drive beat a helpless Joe Hart and came back off the far post.
By the time Silva was denied by a superb block from the outrushing Foster in the closing minutes at the height of a lengthy period of City attacking, it was looking apparent that their first dry game since losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich in September was on the horizon.