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Manchester City missed out on the chance to join Manchester United at the top of the Barclays Premier League after being held to a goalless draw by West Ham at Upton Park.
Although Roberto Mancini opted to start with Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko in the same lineup for the first time the Premier League champions failed to score for the first time in almost seven months.
It could have been even worse for Mancini's men had Kevin Nolan not seen an early goal ruled out for offside as West Ham held their own and were marshalled brilliantly by Winston Reid and James Tomkins.
The visitors’ defence, meanwhile, included Kolo Toure for his first Premier League start since August and recalling James Milner, although Mancini was forced into a last-minute change when the latter hurt his hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced by Gareth Barry.
The hosts thought they were ahead after just four minutes when Mark Noble played a simple free-kick over the top, which Nolan brilliantly volleyed past Joe Hart, only for his first-time effort to be ruled out for offside.
Mohamed Diame then came close with a rising drive after drifting past Toure, deployed as a makeshift right-back in the absence of the injured Micah Richards.
Toure was almost caught out again when a crossfield ball found the lively Matt Jarvis, whose cross was met superbly on the run by Yossi Benayoun. Hart appeared to tip the Israeli's thunderbolt against the bar and over but the officials thought otherwise.
At the other end Balotelli snatched at a cutback from Toure and miscued an overhead kick from Samir Nasri's cross before the break.
Jussi Jaaskelainen almost fumbled Tevez's snapshot after the restart before getting away with spilling the striker's corner as City threatened, while James Collins was also booked for a cynical check on Dzeko.
But West Ham got going again and Nolan failed to glance Benayoun's cross on target before Carroll did likewise with his own overhead attempt.
Benayoun joined Collins in the referee's notebook as Tevez continued to pull the strings for City, although his finishing was badly awry when give a chance to break the deadlock.
Barry also squandered a presentable opportunity midway through the second half, after controlling Tevez's pass on his chest only to prod wide from barely three yards.
Mancini brought on Sergio Aguero for Balotelli, with Hammers manager Sam Allardyce sending on Gary O'Neil for Diame.
Suddenly, City were swarming but Reid and Collins were producing heroics at the back.
West Ham were also a threat on the break, Carroll's lunging finish after more fine work from Jarvis his final act before the introduction of Carlton Cole.
O'Neil and George McCartney were both booked and Aguero almost caught out Jaaskelainen from a quick free-kick.
Tevez and Collins were then replaced by Javi Garcia and Jordan Spence, while Mancini played his last card when he threw Scott Sinclair on for Nasri, to no avail.
|12 Jan 2013||v Sunderland (A)|
|10 Feb 2013||v Aston Villa (A)|
|17 Apr 2013||v Man Utd (H)|
|17 Mar 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Man City (A)|
|22 Dec 2012||v Everton (H)|