Raheem Sterling feels aggrieved as Everton hold on for a point
Raheem Sterling was controversially denied a late penalty as Manchester City were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Everton.
Sterling went down under a challenge from John Stones in injury time but referee Roger East gave nothing and City dropped two points in the Barclays Premier League title race.
City had dominated proceedings on a wet and cold night but were continually frustrated by the dogged visitors, for whom goalkeeper Tim Howard was outstanding.
City striker Sergio Aguero also had a couple of penalty appeals turned down as City, a week after losing at Goodison Park in the Capital One Cup, once again found Everton a tough nut to crack.
The major talking point prior to the game was the traffic problems on the motorway network around Manchester which delayed many supporters. The ground was not full at the scheduled 7.45pm start and the Everton team had even arrived later than planned, although not severely. People continued to trickle into the ground throughout a lively first half.
Injury to Seamus Coleman meant that Everton lined up with Stones at right-back but with Phil Jagielka back from injury in the centre, the back four was not particularly weakened. City left playmaker David Silva on the bench and operated with Sterling behind Aguero and Jesus Navas and Kevin De Bruyne either side.
City pieced together a slick early move as Sterling played in De Bruyne but the Belgian shot wide. Yaya Toure also tested Howard with a firm header.
Aguero claimed he was tripped by Mohamed Besic when clean through but referee East gave nothing and Sterling fired over.
At the other end, Nicolas Otamendi almost turned the ball into his own net as he stretched to cut out a Gerard Deulofeu cross while Leon Osman went close to a spectacular opener as he volleyed a Romelu Lukaku cross narrowly wide.
City started the second half brighter but Everton defended doggedly and frustrated the hosts. Sterling failed to make firm contact in front of goal, Aguero hit the side-netting and Toure had an effort deflected over.
Aguero did meet a De Bruyne corner with a firm shot but Howard was in the right position to palm away and the American then stretched out a boot to deny Sterling.
Howard did even better to spread himself and block from Aguero again after the Argentinian had shrugged off countryman Ramiro Funes Mori, although the City man felt he had a penalty claim against the defender.
City sent on Silva for the final 16 minutes in the hope of prising an opening but the visitors survived as Navas headed wide and Aguero wriggled through but missed the target.
There was late drama as Aguero went down trying to beat two defenders but his appeal seemed optimistic. Sterling's penalty claim seemed stronger, and fans thought East had pointed to the spot, but instead it was merely a goal-kick.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Take the draw or let's go for the 3 points. I prefer the 3 points @Everton #COYB" - Tim Cahill wanted the Toffees to go all out for the win late on but he will have to be happy with a well earned draw at the Etihad.
Jo Hart: 6
Bacary Sagna: 6
Martin Demechelis: 6
Nicolas Otamendi: 6
Gael Clichy: 6
Yaya Toure: 8
Jesus Navas: 6
Kevin De Bruyne (Silva, 74): 7
Raheem Sterling: 7
Sergio Aguero: 7
David Silva: 6
Tim Howard: 8
John Stones: 6
Phil Jagielka: 7
Ramiro Funes Mori: 7
Leighton Baines: 6
Muhamed Besic: 7
Gareth Barry: 7
Leon Osman (Pienaar, 71): 6
Gerard Deulofeu (Kone, 71): 5
Ross Barkley: 5
Romelu Lukaku: 6
Steven Pienaar: 5
Arouna Kone: 5
Tim Howard has been heavily criticised at times this season and there were calls for Joel Robles to keep his place after good cup performances. But Roberto Martinez has resolutely stuck by his man and was repaid handsomely here. Howard did not put a foot wrong, producing a series of impressive saves, particularly during a spell in the middle of the second half when Everton were under siege.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The majority of the chances fell to City but Leon Osman almost scored a goal-of-the-season contender in the 31st minute. A flowing Everton counter-attack ended with Romelu Lukaku crossing to the back post where Osman connected sublimely with a volley that flew just wide.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Both teams were restored to as full strength as possible following their cup outings. City boss Manuel Pellegrini played Raheem Sterling through the middle in an attacking quartet of Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero, with David Silva left on the bench. Everton captain Phil Jagielka made his first Premier League appearance in more than two months so John Stones moved to right-back to cover for the injured Seamus Coleman. As expected, Romelu Lukaku returned from his ankle knock to lead the attack.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Traffic chaos around Manchester meant Everton were late arriving and the Etihad Stadium was only around two thirds full for kick-off. It was a shame the start was not delayed to allow more fans to get into the ground.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Manchester City v Crystal Palace (Premier League, January 16)
Chelsea v Everton (Premier League, January 16)