Manchester City drop points in frustrating goalless draw with Everton
Raheem Sterling was denied a late penalty as Manchester City were held to a goalless draw by Everton at the Etihad Stadium.
Sterling went down under a challenge from John Stones in injury time, but referee Roger East pointed for a goal-kick and City dropped two points in the Premier League title race.
The home side had dominated proceedings on a wet and cold night but were continually frustrated by the visitors, for whom goalkeeper Tim Howard was outstanding.
City striker Sergio Aguero also had a couple of penalty appeals turned down as City, a week after losing at Goodison Park in the Capital One Cup, again found Everton a tough nut to crack.
The major talking point prior to the game was traffic problems on the motorway network around Manchester, which delayed many supporters.
Injury to Seamus Coleman meant Everton lined up with Stones at right-back, but with Phil Jagielka -- back from injury -- in the centre, the back four was not particularly weakened. City left playmaker David Silva on the bench and operated with Sterling behind Aguero and Jesus Navas and Kevin De Bruyne either side.
City pieced together a slick early move as Sterling played in De Bruyne, but the Belgian shot wide. Yaya Toure also tested Howard with a firm header.
Aguero claimed he was tripped by Mohamed Besic when clean through, but referee East gave nothing and Sterling fired over.
At the other end, Nicolas Otamendi almost turned the ball into his own net as he stretched to cut out a Gerard Deulofeu cross, while Leon Osman went close to a spectacular opener as he volleyed a Romelu Lukaku cross narrowly wide.
City started the second half the brighter, but Everton defended well. Sterling failed to make firm contact in front of goal, Aguero hit the side netting and Toure had an effort deflected over.
Aguero did meet a De Bruyne corner with a firm shot, but Howard was in the right position to palm away and the American then stretched out a boot to deny Sterling.
Howard did even better to spread himself and block from Aguero again after the Argentine had shrugged off countryman Ramiro Funes Mori, although the City man felt he had a penalty claim against the defender.
City sent on Silva for the final 16 minutes in the hope of snatching a goal but the visitors survived as Navas headed wide and Aguero wriggled through but missed the target.
There was late drama as Aguero went down trying to beat two defenders but his appeal seemed optimistic. Sterling's penalty claim appeared stronger, and fans thought East had pointed to the spot -- but it was merely a goal-kick.