Manchester City’s faltering title bid hit took another hammer blow on Saturday lunchtime as Norwich claimed a goalless draw.
Flat-track bullies City, who had won 15 of 17 games against the Premier League’s bottom 12 teams this season, dominated possession at Carrow Road, but had only Sergio Aguero’s saved shot in the first half to show for all their efforts.
And in fact it was the hosts who came closest to scoring on 39 minutes when Patrick Bamford’s half-volley from 25 yards out crashed against the top of the crossbar.
The draw leaves Man City, who failed to have a shot on target in the second period, nine points behind leaders Leicester, having played a game more, and with just eight matches remaining.
Norwich though have boosted their hopes of Premier League survival.
City now turn their attentions to Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Dynamo Kiev and next Sunday’s Premier League derby with Manchester United.
For teams with title aspirations, victory at relegation candidates Norwich should be a formality. It was anything but for City, whose only half-decent performer was Sergio Aguero.
John Ruddy dealt unconvincingly with a free-kick from Aguero, who then shot narrowly wide across goal.
The Argentina striker next ran at the Norwich defence and Ruddy made a sharp save to his right.
Norwich were set up not to concede, having last claimed a clean sheet on January 2. A 3-0 FA Cup third-round loss to City at Carrow Road was the first fixture of that 11-game run, but the visitors showed nothing like the same cutting edge this time around.
On loan Chelsea striker Bamford came close to upsetting City on his first start.
Nicolas Otamendi allowed the ball to bounce and Bamford waited patiently for it to drop. Once it settled, he sweetly swung his left-foot and the result was a 25-yard shot which Joe Hart watched hit his crossbar.
That effort and a tackle by Jonny Howson on Aguero seemed to galvanise Norwich. Matt Jarvis, who switched to the right when Nathan Redmond limped off with what appeared to be a calf problem, next went close.
Jarvis’ deflected shot looped just wide and referee Jon Moss ruled there was no time to take the resulting corner, much to Gary O’Neil’s annoyance.
O’Neil was a nuisance throughout. The midfielder was one of a number of Norwich players who made a habit of bundling David Silva to ground as agricultural won over cultured play.
Still Aguero was City’s most threatening player, yet his efforts were not matched by team-mates.
The anonymous Wilfried Bony was replaced by Raheem Sterling and Aguero became the attacking focal point.
He tumbled into the area after running at Tim Klose, but Moss was correct in adjudging the foul to have taken place outside the area. Silva’s free-kick went into the wall. It summed up City’s efforts.
Dorrans shot wide for Norwich and Aguero blasted over as he tried to find an 88th-minute winner, but even he could not prevent the stalemate.
Norwich City 0-0 Manchester City stats
Man City have now won just two of their last 11 Premier League away games (W2 D5 L4).
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have scored just eight goals in their last 12 Premier League away matches.
Manchester City won their 51st point of the season; 42 of which have come against sides currently in the bottom half (82%).
This is Man City’s lowest points tally (51) after 29 games of a Premier League season since 2008-09 (35).
Norwich have won just two points in their last 10 Premier League games (W0 D2 L8).
This is Norwich’s worst run in the Premier League (10 games without a win) within a single PL campaign since November 2004 (13 games).
Norwich failed to attempt a single shot on target in this match – the first time that they have done so this season in the Premier League and the first time in the competition since April 2013.
Manchester City didn’t attempt a shot on target in the second half of this match.
Russell Martin made his 120th Premier League appearance for Norwich City in this game and became the player to make the most apps in the competition for the club ahead of Mark Bowen (119).