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Man City fires blanks for 1st time in title charge

Updated: December 26, 2011, 12:14

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, right, vies for the ball against West Bromwich Albion's Billy Jones during their English Premier League soccer match at the Hawthorns Stadium, West Bromwich, England, Monday Dec. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Tim Hales)

WEST BROMWICH, England(AP) Manchester City's expensively assembled squad failed to score for the first time in the Premier League this season on Monday, as a 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion wiped out its 2-point lead.

Only a superior goal difference is now keeping City ahead of neighbor Manchester United, which routed Wigan 5-0 on Boxing Day.

Mario Balotelli hit the crossbar and had a goal disallowed but City lacked its usual bite at The Hawthorns.

It could even have been worse for Roberto Mancini's side, with Jerome Thomas hitting the post and Shane Long heading wide for the mid-table side.

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