Premier League: Julio Cesar helps QPR hold Manchester City to goalless draw
Goalkeeper Julio Cesar was the hero as QPR held Manchester City to a goalless draw at Loftus Road.
By Tom Mallows
Last Updated: 30/01/13 6:48am
The summer signing from Inter Milan made a series of fine saves to deny Roberto Mancini's men, who missed the chance to close the gap on leaders Manchester United to two points.
Rangers boss Harry Redknapp wasn't kidding when he promised "a different team" from the one that lost to MK Dons in the FA Cup on Saturday, making eight changes to his starting XI, including recalls for Loic Remy, Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen.
Much of the talk surrounding City pre-match was about who wasn't at Loftus Road rather than who was, with enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli absent as he put the final touches on a move to AC Milan.
On a wet and windy night in west London, City's first opening came after 20 minutes when Pablo Zabaleta, who grabbed the winner in the FA Cup against Stoke on Saturday, thumped a header off the crossbar from eight yards following great play by David Silva down the left.
Just after the half hour mark Esteban Granero's block tackle span off James Milner and fell for Sergio Aguero, who calmly slotted home, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.
Mancini had goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for keeping his side level after 39 minutes. The England international spreading himself to block Adel Taarabt's shot following a surging run into the box by the Moroccan.
Whatever Hart could do, Cesar could do better, the Brazilian diving full stretch to his right to superbly palm away Gareth Barry's goalbound effort three minutes later.
Silva continued to cause problems down the QPR left after the break, his neat one-two with Aguero on 68 minutes affording him space to have a low shot from the left hand side of the penalty area that was well held by Cesar.
QPR were screaming for a penalty seconds later when Remy went down in the area as he skipped past Joleon Lescott, but referee Phil Dowd turned down their appeals.
With the clock ticking down towards full time Cesar came to QPR's rescue yet again, superbly denying Silva from point blank range after the Spaniard latched onto Dzeko's low cross.
Referee Dowd was the centre of attention once more in the closing stages, correctly adjudging that Nedum Onuoha got the ball when tackling Scott Sinclair in the box and waving away City's appeals for a spot kick.