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Manchester City strengthened their grip on second place in the Premier League with a hard-fought goalless draw at Swansea City.
The deposed champions were off the pace in a first half dominated by the hosts but chances were missed at both ends as the two goalkeepers had an easy afternoon. The visitors improved after the break but had to settle for a point. It was Swansea's seventh game without a win while it was the visitors' first draw since the start of February.
Both Roberto Mancini and Michael Laudrup made changes to their starting line-ups, with Mateja Nastasic and James Milner starting in place of Joleon Lescott and Carlos Tevez for the visitors and Nathan Dyer preferred to South Korean Ki Sung-Yong for Swansea.
With neither side having much to play for, there was a relaxed mood inside the Liberty Stadium and this showed in the opening exchanges as both sides attacked with freedom while remaining solid at the back.
Manchester City had the best early chance after a Milner cross was deflected behind by Chico Flores. The resulting corner was headed clear by the Swansea defence but only as far as Samir Nasri on the edge of the penalty area. However, the Frenchman leant back as he struck his shot and the ball flew over the crossbar.
After riding their luck with Nasri’s miss, Swansea burst into life with the impressive Dyer at the heart of everything positive from the home side. He created chances for Pablo Hernandez, Michu and Wayne Routledge inside 20 minutes but all three failed to take their opportunities as Joe Hart was not called into action.
The hosts then had claims for a penalty turned down when Nastasic challenged Michu as he waited for Dyer's floated pass to drop on to his chest.
As the half came to a close, some excellent defending from Swansea prevented Sergio Aguero from opening the scoring. The Argentine saw his first chance blocked well by Ashley Williams and, from the rebound, Michel Vorm made a point-blank save.
The visitors replaced Yaya Toure with Edin Dzeko at the break. The Bosnian helped City get a grip on the game as they immediately threatened through David Silva and Aguero, but Vorm was not tested in the Swansea goal.
Plenty of attractive football followed but neither goalkeeper was forced into a save as a midfield battle ensued. Dyer was again the main Swansea threat but the resolute Manchester City defence kept him at bay although Jonathan De Guzman fired a late free-kick over the bar. The hosts also lost Michu midway through the half after he was forced off through injury.
Silva missed a chance in the closing minutes to win the game for the visitors but he blasted Dzeko’s pull back wide of goal from the edge of the penalty area.
After the match it was revealed that Manchester City's former Swansea winger Scott Sinclair is in hospital after being diagnosed with a blood clot on his shoulder, although his condition is not life-threatening.
Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup: "In the first 30 minutes, we played good football and created three or four chances. I think that's a lot when you are talking about playing the champions from last season, a great team.
"They had a couple of chances late on. The second half wasn't the best football. Even we have to admit they had two big chances at the end - especially the one for Dzeko.
"Overall it was a good point for us. We keep our position in ninth in the table with a game in hand, so I'm happy with that and it means we can still reach that target of a top-10 finish and I think that would be fantastic.
"It's (Michu's injury) not very serious but it is a hamstring so it will probably be goodbye for this season. There are only two weeks left but I think his season is over."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "I thought the first half was so-so because Swansea played very well. In the second half we missed some incredible chances. We had five chances to score, two in the first half and three in the second.
"In the second half we dominated so I am happy with the performance but unhappy with the goals we are missing.
"Yaya Toure had a problem in the warm-up and he was not 100 per cent. We had a big problem in the middle to stop their counter-attack. We took him off because we didn't want to take a risk for the next game."
|07 May 2013||v Wigan (A)|
|12 May 2013||v Man Utd (A)|
|19 May 2013||v Fulham (H)|
|15 Dec 2013||v Norwich (A)|
|22 Dec 2013||v Swansea (H)|
|26 Dec 2013||v Chelsea (A)|