London: Title-chasing Manchester City, poised to sell striker Mario Balotelli, could not crack resilient Queens Park Rangers and in-form goalkeeper Julio Cesar in a 0-0 draw at the Premier League's basement club on Tuesday.
City closed the gap on leaders Manchester United to four points but a frustrating night for Roberto Mancini's side in a wet and windy capital handed United the chance to increase their advantage to seven when they host Southampton Wednesday. "Julio Cesar saved everything and we made some mistakes - on another day maybe we could have scored four goals," Mancini, who signed Brazilian Cesar back in 2005 when Inter Milan manager, told City's website.
United have 56 points from 23 games with City on 52 from 24. Aston Villa's season continued to lurch from bad to worse after 2-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Newcastle United dropped the freefalling Midlands club into the relegation zone. Goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye fired Newcastle into a first-half lead with Christian Benteke's penalty soon after the restart not enough to save Villa from a fourth successive home league defeat.
Villa got a standing ovation for their second-half efforts and beleaguered manager Paul Lambert, backed this week by the club's American owner Randy Lerner, promised to "fight our way out of it".