FA Premier League
Saturday 3 November 2012, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, K Toure, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Y Toure, Nasri (Sinclair 90), Barry, Tevez (Garcia 84), Dzeko, Balotelli (Aguero 69)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Razak
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Mario Balotelli
It was a very even start to the game, with both sides pushing for early control. A free kick mid-way into the City half allowed West Ham to loft the ball into the box and Nolan nodded it past Joe Hart, but his celebration was cut short by an offside flag. City were lucky, especially with replays suggesting the West Ham man was level with the visitors’ back line.
City responded with some pressure of their own. Some neat play in the middle of the pitch allowed Nasri to shoot from the edge of the box. It was pushed away by Jaaskelainen and Dzeko headed the rebound at goal, but he was also flagged offside. Not that it mattered, as the effort dropped wide, with Balotelli unable to touch it in.
With 12 minutes played, Diame found acres of space on the left side of City’s box and it allowed him to cut inside. As he entered the area, he belted a shot at goal, but he got underneath it and Joe Hart was able to cover it and let it go over the bar. The England goalkeeper was then helpless as Benayoun hit the bar.
Tevez hit a free kick into the West Ham wall, before, a few minutes later, he stole the ball back from the home side’s defence on the right flank and squared for Dzeko on the edge of the box. The Bosnian’s effort, though, curled easily into the hands of Jaaskelainen. Carroll could have opened the scoring in between those efforts, with a low drive, but it narrowly missed Hart’s post.
Some more City pressure put West Ham on the back foot. A Balotelli volley was blocked by Benayoun, before a Tevez free kick found the Italian unmarked inside the six-yard box. Somehow, though, the forward got underneath the effort and skied it, with Jaaskelainen rooted to his line. Kolo Toure set up Balotelli with a good shooting chance, but his effort didn’t go near the goal.
Balotelli tried an overhead kick as the board went up for stoppage time, but it caught his shin and didn’t trouble the West Ham goal. This followed Kolo Toure picking up a loose ball from a City corner and feeding it through to his brother on the right side of the box. Yaya Toure, unmarked, took a touch to control and, as he was closed down, fired his shot in. He sliced it, though, and it spun wide at the near post.
Early in the second half, some good work from Dzeko and Nasri allowed the forward to smash a ball across the face of goal. Balotelli, though, in the six-yard box, took a fresh air shot. Tevez rescued the ball and got a shot in, but it was a simple save for Jaaskelainen.
But then West Ham began to press. Nolan headed wide from a Benayoun cross as he stretched to reach it, before Carroll tried an overhead kick. He caught it well and it was on target, until it was blocked behind for a corner. From the flag kick, City struggled to clear, but West Ham couldn’t force a shooting opportunity.
A brilliant ball from Yaya Toure set Clichy through on the left flank. He looked inside for Dzeko, but the Bosnian couldn’t get a decisive touch on the ball to redirect it on target and it bobbled behind without troubling the goalkeeper. Tevez skied a shot from inside the box, after Clichy had recovered the ball on the left wing and picked out Balotelli in the middle. The Italian rolled it into the Argentine, but he couldn’t keep his left-footed effort down.
It was backs to the wall for West Ham with 15 minutes to play, as City pushed for the opening goal. Clichy had a drive at the box after having done brilliantly to keep possession under pressure, but it was blocked inside the box. Dzeko tried to hit the rebound, but his shot was blocked.
City spent the end of the game throwing the kitchen sink at the hosts, but despite a toe-poke from the edge of the box by Yaya Toure, the visiting side just couldn’t trouble Jaaskelainen in the West Ham goal. It was the first time City failed to score this season and the first goalless draw since Boxing Day 2011, but the Champions do remain unbeaten.