City holds United to 0-0 draw

Manchester City held fierce crosstown rival Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, keeping the Red Devils 11 points behind leader Chelsea.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Manchester City held fierce crosstown rival Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, keeping the Red Devils 11 points behind leader Chelsea. In a hard fought, tough-tackling match, City defenders shut out United's expensively assembled attack of Alan Smith, Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney. Smith was sent off with two minutes remaining for his second yellow card. "It's not championship form," said Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who also criticised referee Graham Poll. "The chances we're creating and not taking them is not good enough. The belief's there - they've dominated the game. We're suffering at the moment." Also yesterday, Middlesbrough needed an injury-time goal from George Boateng to draw 1-1 at 10-man Bolton, and Fulham beat Newcastle 4-1 at St. James' Park off two goals from Steed Malbranque and one each from Collins John and Luis Boa Morte. Chelsea, which beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday, leads the Premier League standings with 29 points, followed by Arsenal with 27. The defending champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Crystal Palace. Everton is in third place with 23 points, ahead of Bolton with 22, Middlesbrough with 19 and Aston Villa with 18. United is seventh, also with 18 points. Arsenal had led the league from the start, dropping to second in Saturday's 12th league game of the season. "They've done the club proud," City manager Kevin Keegan said. "Not many teams come here and get anything. We just want other people to know there's another club in the city, because for a lot of years, they didn't think there was." City was without five senior players. Defender Stephen Jordan, who needed stitches above his eye after a tackle on Saha, was playing only his second league match. Jordan stopped a Saha strike from crossing the line in the first half and United had two first-half penalty appeals involving Mikael Silvestre and Saha turned down. "The referee was in no way ever going to give us a penalty," Ferguson said. "You'd have to hit with an axe before you'd get one today. They were clear penalties." Ryan Giggs was brought on at halftime, replacing Liam Miller. He missed the best chance of the match in the 67th minute when he chipped the ball wide. United added a third attacker in the 76th minute with Rooney replacing Paul Scholes. Smith and Roy Keane also had chances, while Saha sent a header wide and missed another good chance in injury time. City didn't have a shot on goal in the second half. "A point away from home is a good result," Keegan said. "They're going to create chances with the players they've got." Last weekend, United lost at Portsmouth 2-0. It was a stunning letdown after the morale-boosting 2-0 win over Arsenal the week before that ended the Gunners' 49-match unbeaten streak. Yesterday's result was United's third 0-0 draw in five league matches. United has scored 11 goals in 12 league matches, while in the Champions League has netted 12 in four games. "Maybe European football represents a big game for them and maybe the mundane challenges of Premier League is not the same," Ferguson said. At St. James' Park, Fulham took the lead in the 28th minute when John scored against the run of play. The Cottagers went further ahead in the 65th minute through Malbranque, who scored again six minutes later by converting a penalty. Boa Morte made it 4-0 in the 76th minute before Craig Bellamy pulled a goal back for Newcastle a minute later. "Newcastle had way, way more possession and a lot more shots on goal, but we took our chances today and that was the difference," Fulham manager Chris Coleman said. Fulham stayed in the game with a standout performance from goalkeeper Mark Crossley, who kept out Lee Bowyer, Bellamy, Robbie Elliott and Patrick Kluivert. (AP)