MANCHESTER CITY saw their two-point lead at the top of Premier League wiped out after a frustrating draw at West Brom.
Mario Balotelli hit the crossbar and had a goal disallowed, but City lacked their usual bite and saw Manchester United draw level on points.
It could even have been worse for Roberto Mancini's men though with Jerome Thomas hitting the post and Shane Long heading a good chance wide. Balotelli had returned as Mancini made four changes, with Kolo Toure, Pablo Zabaleta and James Milner all named.
West Brom made one change as Billy Jones replaced the injured Steven Reid.
The Baggies, buoyed by their thrilling win at Newcastle, went close inside the opening three minutes with Chris Brunt firing across goal with a powerful left-foot drive.
City began to assert their authority after that scare but had to wait patiently for chances to open up.
Samir Nasri had a volley blocked by Jonas Olsson and soon after shot tamely at Ben Foster from distance.
West Brom continued to pose a threat though and Paul Scharner tried his luck with a low shot from 25 yards that took a deflection and saw Joe Hart tip it behind.
City should have taken the lead after 24 minutes when Sergio Aguero laid off for David Silva from a fine crossfield Nasri pass but the Spaniard side-footed over.
Balotelli saw a low freekick deflect narrowly wide before Yaya Toure headeed wide from the second of two corners.
City picked up the tempo and Balotelli was unlucky when a Silva shot was deflected into his path and he volleyed in only to see an offside flag raised.
West Brom threatened again on the counter-attack when Brunt found space on the left to curl in a dangerous cross for Shane Long but Vincent Kompany slid in to make a vital interception.
Balotelli was soon into the action in the second half and drew a foul from Olsson in a dangerous position — which City wasted.
But spell of possession saw the Italian struck the top of the bar with a superb effort from 30 yards wide on the left.
For West Brom, Long spurned a glorious chance just before the hour when he headed wide from six yards.
City tried to show some urgency in response but Silva shot straight at Foster after a good spell of passing.
Aguero, surprised to be given onside from a Milner header, then miskicked an attempted toe-poke past Foster and Gareth McAuley cleared.
Albion had another chance from a free-kick but Brunt fired wide.
City appeared to be getting frustrated as Kolo Toure shot over and substitute Gareth Barry screwed another effort well wide.
West Brom were again unfortunate when Odemwingie teed up Thomas just outside the area and the midfielder struck a sweet shot against the foot of the post.
City changed their attack by sending on Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko and were denied with five minutes remaining when Olsson blocked from Silva.
Dzeko found space in injury time but shot well over the bar and West Brom claimed a deserved point.
West Brom: Foster, Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Shorey, Brunt, Scharner, Mulumbu (Dorrans 80), Thomas, Long, Odemwingie (Jara Reyes 88) Subs Not Used: Fulop, Dawson, Thorne, Cox, Fortune
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Clichy, Toure Yaya, Milner (Dzeko 82), Nasri (Barry 59), Silva, Aguero (Johnson 74), Balotelli. Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Savic, De Jong
Booked: Toure Yaya
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
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