Scroll to photostream above left for match photos. For stats, click on the statistics tab. Match reaction below.
Manchester City missed out on the opportunity to put pressure on Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United as bottom-placed Queens Park Rangers eked out a goalless draw at Loftus Road.
On a day dominated by Mario Balotelli's expected move to AC Milan, Roberto Mancini's side struggled to find their cutting edge in front of goal, although the defensive heroics of the hosts and some outstanding saves by Julio Cesar played a significant part in denying City a victory in west London, and keeping them four points behind rivals United.
That gap could extend to seven points should Sir Alex Ferguson's side overcome Southampton on Wednesday and City will be kicking themselves for not stretching their sequence of successive league wins to five.
Pablo Zabaleta hit the crossbar and Cesar superbly denied Gareth Barry in a first half in which Adel Taarabt was also thwarted by goalkeeper Joe Hart, while Harry Redknapp's side spent most of the second half on the back foot, withstanding a barrage of City attacks.
The match got off to a tentative start on a wet and windy evening in west London. QPR, showing eight changes following their FA Cup defeat by MK Dons, seemed happy to sit back and soak up City pressure, with the hope of catching them on the break.
It was a dangerous ploy and one that threatened to catch them out on a number of occasions during the opening 20 minutes. The home side's Nedum Onuoha, a graduate of the City academy, did well to clear away a threatening Samir Nasri cross before Shaun Derry threw himself in front of a Sergio Aguero strike.
Joleon Lescott then volleyed over after Cesar failed to deal with a David Silva corner. The Brazilian shot-stopper was quick to make amends, though, preventing Ryan Nelsen from deflecting a James Milner shot into his own goal.
Clint Hill cleared a low Aguero cross that look set to be turned in as Mancini's side continued to press for an opener. That attacking impetus saw Silva send over a delicate dinked cross, which Zabaleta met with a powerful header that rattled the bar.
Javi Garcia, playing as a makeshift centre-back alongside Lescott, then saw an audacious 45-yard half-volley whistle just wide, before he was called into action at the other end when Remy latched onto a quickly-taken Stephane Mbia free-kick and fired a low strike from an acute angle that would have tested Hart had it not been for a deflection off the Spaniard's heel.
QPR were starting to get more joy on the break and, after Aguero saw a goal ruled out for offside, Taarabt went close to breaking the deadlock. The Moroccan playmaker burst forward and a stepover easily took him past Gael Clichy, only to see his goalbound strike superbly denied by Hart, making his 150th Premier League start for City.
After Mbia became the first player booked, the visitors returned to the attack and would have had the opener had Cesar not been alert to keep out a fine left-footed Barry strike, with Nasri striking wide just before the break.
After Taarabt saw a strike deflected behind by Lescott early in the second half, Mancini brought on Edin Dzeko in search of a winner but it was QPR that were next to have a chance, with Remy curling wide.
The change was soon having an impact as City attacking with renewed vigour. Cesar denied Silva after a neat one-two with Carlos Tevez before Dzeko nodded over from a corner and Aguero mishit a Zabaleta cutback.
Milner was next to get a shot away for City, moments after Remy saw penalty appeals waved away and Cesar then somehow kept out Silva from a Dzeko cross before the Spaniard's fierce drive was thwarted by Nelsen.
There was to be no City winner, though, and QPR's players gave Nelsen a guard of honour on what was his final game for the club before taking over as Toronto FC head coach.
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp: "Of course it is a bonus point, it is a great point. They rip teams to pieces home and away, you would take a point off them at any time. It is a fantastic result. I wouldn't say it is the end [of the title race] - it is a good result for Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson] tonight for sure, but it is still open.
"We are struggling a bit, we lose Ryan Nelsen now and I haven't got a replacement. We are desperately short. The chairman is dealing with it [a potential Chrisopher Samba deal] I don't know where we are at with it. He [Tony Fernandes] asked me about a week ago if I would be interested if he could get me Samba and I said of course, he is a fantastic competitor."
"Tony [Pulis, Stoke City manager] is a friend of mine but I don't know if they want to sell him or not. We will have to wait and see, if they decide to sell him we would be interested because I like Peter, I have managed him several times."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "We lost two points, this is sure. But the season is long and I think I can say nothing because we played well, we had the chances but didn't score - that is all it is.
"We are disappointed with this result because we had a lot of chances to win, we dominated this game but when you play like this and don't score quickly it can be difficult. QPR defended very well and got players behind the ball and Julio Cesar was incredible tonight.
"I think that if they continue to play like they did tonight and defend like they did tonight, they will have a chance. If Julio plays every game like he did tonight then they have a chance.”
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|02 Mar 2013||v Southampton (A)|
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