REPORT: NORWICH 0-0 MAN CITYNORWICH City held Premier League title-chasers Manchester City to a 0-0 draw after an engrossing encounter at Carrow Road.
Chris Hughton's men had the better of the first 25 minutes, and had a goal ruled out for offside through Gary Hooper.
The visitors slowly began to show their class, with the woodwork denying Alvaro Negredo and John Ruddy at full stretch to keep out Stevan Jovetic.
The Canaries defended superbly in the second half and could have won all three points at the end had a Nathan Redmond cross not evaded both Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Anthony Pilkington.
A deserved point left the Canaries in 15th spot in the Premier League at the final whistle, two points clear of the three relegation spots.
City suffered a trio of injury setbacks in the lead up to the game, with Robert Snodgrass and Jonas Gutierrez joining Ryan Bennett on the sidelines.
That meant a debut for Joseph Yobo in central defence and a return to the team for Pilkington and Redmond, while Leroy Fer also stepped in for Johan Elmander.
Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were notable absentees for the visitors, while Matija Nastasic was also missing from the squad of 18 – Jovetic joined Negredo in attack.
The Canaries’ tempo was good in the early stages, and on 16 minutes Redmond bore down on goal after an inch-perfect pass from Hooper.
Unfortunately with only Joe Hart to beat, the young winger blasted his shot over the crossbar.
The signs were positive though, and from a corner moments later City thought they had taken the lead, only for Hooper’s close-range effort to be correctly ruled out for offside after Fer had his header saved.
Manchester City were showing none of the sharpness in the final third that has defined their season, but credit for that had to go to City’s robust defensive structure that offered little space.
Their first half-chance came as late as the 33rd minute, when Pablo Zabaleta found room behind Norwich’s back four but from a narrow angle, he pushed his effort across Ruddy’s goal.
From a corner minutes later, they crunched the crossbar through Negredo, who rose to meet Martin Demichelis’ flick-on at the far post, the closest the 2012 Premier League champions had come to breaking the deadlock.
Negredo then tried his luck from distance, drilling a shot into the sidenetting as Manuel Pellegrini’s side increased the pressure towards the end of the half – Jovetic was next to test Ruddy on 43 with a low drive, one that City’s ‘keeper was glad to claim at the second attempt.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-0 Manchester City
Hesitancy from Nathan Redmond on 57 minutes allowed the Citizens to break into the box, but Martin Olsson made a magnificent block at the back-post to deny the onrushing Jesus Navas.
Russell Martin’s audacious volley four minutes later nearly saw him replicate his goal-scoring form from this fixture last term, but if flew the wrong side of Hart’s post.
A knock suffered by Hooper saw him withdrawn for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but most of the Dutch international’s work was nearer his own goal in the early stages as the visitors won successive corners.
Substitute Edin Dzeko hit a meek effort wide but their pressure grew as the final whistle drew nearer, but City’s defence, led by Ruddy, was holding firm.
City almost snatched all three points with just two minutes left on the clock, however, as Redmond's invention allowed him to fire a ball across the six-yard box, but it missed both van Wolfswinkel and Pilkington.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 0-0 Manchester City
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong (c), Olsson; Redmond, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington (Whittaker 90); Fer; Hooper (van Wolfswinkel 68). Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Hoolahan, Garrido, Becchio, Josh Murphy.
MANCHESTER CITY: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy; Navas, Milner, Toure, Silva; Negredo (Kolarov 77), Jovetic (Dzeko 61). Subs not used: Pantilimon (GK), Richards, Rodwell, Lopes, Lescott.
REFEREE: Jonathan Moss