Manchester City failed to cut the gap on English Premier League leaders Manchester United to two points after being held to a 0-0 draw at rock-bottom QPR.
The defending champions had the opportunity to put the pressure on their city rivals, with the Red Devils in action on Wednesday night, but found Julio Cesar in fine form.
Gareth Barry and David Silva both saw their efforts fantastically saved by the former Inter Milan goalkeeper, while Pablo Zabaleta's header from Silva's cross came back off the crossbar.
It was the sort of evening when a moment of Mario magic might have decided the outcome, but Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko were unable to break the deadlock. The goalless draw now gives league leaders Manchester United the opportunity to re-establish a seven-point gap at the top of the table if they can overcome Southampton tonight.
While the hosts remain rooted to the foot of the table, they are now just two points behind Reading.
Adel Taarabt wasted QPR's best chance of the match when he saw his shot well saved by Joe Hart after bursting through on goal.
City manager Roberto Mancini may have left Loftus Road shaking his head, but his position is not as grave as that of Paul Lambert who saw his Aston Villa team slip into the bottom three after a home defeat against Newcastle. Villa, who lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Millwall last week, are without a league win in seven games with only two points out of a possible 21.
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