LONDON: Manchester City failed to close up on Premier League leaders Manchester United to two points after being held 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers.

The defending champions had the opportunity to put the pressure on their city rivals, with the Red Devils in action on Wednesday night, but found Julio Cesar in fine form.

Gareth Barry and David Silva both saw their efforts fantastically saved by the former Inter Milan goalkeeper, while Pablo Zabaleta’s header from Silva’s cross came back off the crossbar.

Adel Taarabt wasted QPR’s best chance of the match when he saw his shot well saved by Joe Hart after bursting through on goal.

While the hosts remain rooted to the foot of the table, they are now just two points behind Reading.

Newcastle held off a spirited second-half resistance from Aston Villa to move four points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Villa Park.

Alan Pardew fielded two of his four new French signings and one of them, Moussa Sissoko, played in striker Papiss Cisse, who took a touch and slotted low past Brad Guzan in the 19th minute.

The visitors looked to be cruising to their first away victory in any competition this season when Yohan Cabaye volleyed into the top corner from 25 yards after the half hour.

Villa were booed off at half-time, prompting manager Paul Lambert to make two changes, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann replacing Joe Bennett and Darren Bent.

Penalty goal

The changes seemed to pay dividends as they won a penalty after Mathieu Debuchy was adjudged to have tripped Agbonlahor on the edge of the penalty area, with Christian Benteke sending Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul the wrong way in the 49th minute.

Villa now occupy the final relegation place after second-half goals from James McArthur and Franco Di Santo helped Wigan rescue a 2-2 draw at Stoke.

The Potters looked firmly on course for the first Premier League win in five matches when Ryan Shawcross volleyed them ahead in the 23rd minute before Peter Crouch doubled their lead after Charlie Adam’s strike had been parried by Latics goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi shortly after half-time.

But Wigan showed their battling qualities and halved the deficit almost immediately when McArthur coolly finished after running through on goal before Di Santo secured a well-earned point when he rifled into the net from McArthur’s knockdown.

Sunderland target Danny Graham almost gave Swansea all three points in their clash at the Stadium of Light but the two teams had to settle for a 0-0 draw.

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