Man City fail to crack resilient Queens Park Rangers
Title-chasing Manchester City, poised to sell striker Mario Balotelli, could not crack resilient Queens Park Rangers and in-form goalkeeper Julio Cesar in a 0-0 draw at the Premier League's basement club on Tuesday.
City closed the gap on leaders Manchester United to four points but a frustrating night for Roberto Mancini's side in a wet and windy capital handed United the chance to increase their advantage to seven when they host Southampton on Wednesday.
"Julio Cesar saved everything and we made some mistakes - on another day maybe we could have scored four goals," Mancini, who signed Brazilian Cesar back in 2005 when Inter Milan manager, told City's website (www.mcfc.co.uk).
United have 56 points from 23 games with City on 52 from 24.
Image: Sergio Arguero of Manchester City is pursued by Stephane Mbia of QPR during the Premier League match at Loftus Road
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
'We did everything to win this game but we didn't score'
Mancini, who left Balotelli out of his squad with the Italy striker set to move back home to Serie A with AC Milan, went for broke in the second-half with his remaining three frontline strikers Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and substitute Edin Dzeko all on the pitch.
But they were thwarted by sturdy defending and the irrepressible Cesar. A strong penalty shout when Scott Sinclair appeared to be upended was also waved away.
"We did everything to win this game but we didn't score," added Mancini.
"The pitch was wet, it was windy, it was difficult - we deserved to win but we have another 14 games to go."
Mancini said it would be difficult for City to replace Balotelli before the transfer window closed on Thursday.
"I don't know, we have three strikers, we will see. We have only two days. It's difficult to get a good player now."
City's Pablo Zabaleta headed against the crossbar in the first half and Cesar made superb saves to deny Gareth Barry and David Silva.
Image: Javi Garcia of Manchester City clears the ball as Loic Remy of QPR closes in during the Premier League match at Loftus Road
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Newcastle best Aston Villa
Aston Villa's season continued to lurch from bad to worse after 2-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Newcastle United dropped the freefalling Midlands club into the relegation zone.
Goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye fired Newcastle into a first-half lead with Christian Benteke's penalty soon after the restart not enough to save Villa from a fourth successive home league defeat.
Villa got a standing ovation for their second-half efforts and beleaguered manager Paul Lambert, backed this week by the club's American owner Randy Lerner, promised to "fight our way out of it".
Image: Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United celebrates scoring the second goal against Aston Villa at Villa Park
Photographs: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Wigan fight back against Stoke City
Wigan Athletic moved above Villa and out of the drop zone on goal difference after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke City.
Wigan got a boost in their survival fight thanks to a fine fightback at Stoke, who had led through Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch.
James McArthur got Wigan back in the match soon after Crouch's early second-half goal and secured a point with Franco Di Santo's volley just after the hour.
Image: Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City scores the opening goal during the Premier League match against Wigan Athletic at the Britannia Stadium
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Sunderland hold Swansea City
In the night's other match, Sunderland and Capital One Cup finalists Swansea City drew 0-0.
Image: Swansea City player Michu (right) is challenged by Sunderland player David Vaughan during the Premier League match at Stadium of Light
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images