Football: City's title push dented by Norwich stalemate

Manchester City's Jesus Navas just after missing a scoring opportunity against Norwich City during their English Premier League match at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on Feb 8, 2014. Manchester City failed to regain pole position in the Pre
Manchester City's Jesus Navas just after missing a scoring opportunity against Norwich City during their English Premier League match at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on Feb 8, 2014. Manchester City failed to regain pole position in the Premier League after they were held to a 0-0 draw. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NORWICH (AFP) - Manchester City failed to regain pole position in the Premier League after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Norwich on Saturday, Feb 8, 2014.

With Arsenal having been beaten 5-1 at Liverpool earlier in the day, three points would have been enough for Manuel Pellegrini's side to go top.

Instead, City now find themselves in third position as Chelsea - who had beaten them 1-0 in Manchester on Monday - opened up a one-point lead at the top by winning at home to Newcastle.

City began the afternoon by restoring James Milner, Gael Clichy and Stevan Jovetic to the starting line-up and moving Martin Demichelis back into defence.

Norwich also made changes following a 2-1 reverse at fellow strugglers Cardiff, with new signing Joseph Yobo handed an instant debut, which he almost spoiled straight away by a slip in his own six-yard box that David Silva was unable to capitalise upon.

Martin Olsson fired in a fierce early effort for the home side, after Nathan Redmond had got past Vincent Kompany, but Pablo Zabaleta was able to deflect it behind for a corner.

Redmond blasted an even better chance over before Norwich had the ball in the City net, only for it to be ruled out for offside.

Joe Hart was only able to parry Leroy Fer's powerful header and Gary Hooper was there to net the rebound but the flag was correctly raised against the former Celtic striker.

City offered little in reply in the first half hour, although Zabaleta did fire across goal and just wide from an angle on the right.

City hit the bar in the 36th minute through Alvaro Negredo's powerful header at the back post after Demichelis had headed on a corner from Navas.

That perked the visitors up and Negredo sent a fierce drive into the side-netting before strike partner Jovetic's long-range shot forced Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy into a diving parry just before half-time.

City were not looking too secure at the back, especially where Demichelis was concerned, and the Argentinian was fortunate referee Jonathan Moss gave a free-kick against Hooper when the defender appeared to have misjudged a bouncing ball that would have sent his opponent clear.

Norwich were soon under pressure themselves however and had Olsson to thank for a block on Jesus Navas that prevented a goal before Jovetic was only just unable to get the better of two opponents at the back post.

Norwich's Russell Martin volleyed wide following a clever flick from Hooper and City swapped Jovetic for Edin Dzeko just after the hour mark.

Norwich were forced into a change soon after when Hooper was hurt by Milner's challenge, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel replacing him up front.

Time was beginning to run out for City and Milner and Yaya Toure saw shots blocked before Negredo was replaced by Aleksandar Kolarov for the last quarter of an hour.

Navas sent a shot across goal and wide as City launched attack after attack but Norwich were defending stoutly and in numbers.

Norwich almost caught them out at the end as well, with van Wolfswinkel unable to get a touch to Olsson's ball across the box and Anthony Pilkington firing over seconds later.