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Manuel Pellegrini won't give up hope of Premier League title …

Manuel Pellegrini refused to call time on Manchester City’s Barclays Premier League title aspirations despite a goalless draw at Norwich.

Pellegrini had said the visitors would need to win at least nine of their remaining 10 games to win the title, so victory at Norwich was a must.

But it was Alex Neil’s relegation-threatened side who came closest to scoring as Patrick Bamford hit the crossbar in the first half.

The point was just Norwich’s second in 10 games and the clean sheet was their first since their most recent win, over Southampton at the turn of the year, while City are nine points behind leaders Leicester.

“Every time you drop points it can be more difficult, but that will not change my mind,” Pellegrini said.

“If you mathematically have a chance to do it, you must always think you can do it. If you ask me before the first game of the season what we must do, we must try to win all the games and we continue with the same mentality.

“And at the end of the season we’ll see how many points we can have and in which position we’ll be.”

City have not won back-to-back Premier League games since October and now turn their attentions to Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Dynamo Kiev before next Sunday’s Premier League derby with Manchester United.

“The most important thing now is to be focused on the Champions League game we have to play on Tuesday, to try to qualify for the next stage,” Pellegrini added.

“After that we have to play against Manchester United on Sunday and try to win again the three points.”

Pellegrini expressed satisfaction with the performance, but, with the exception of Sergio Aguero, his team were disappointing. Aguero was denied by John Ruddy in the first half and felled on the edge of the area in the second, falling into the box, but could not break the deadlock.

“We started from the first minute of the game trying to score, but we couldn’t,” Pellegrini added.

“We had a very good attitude, very good possession, but we couldn’t create the space that we needed in the last third.

“What we normally do in an easy way, today we couldn’t do it.

We normally create space and score goals. Today Norwich defended very well. We tried different ways to create space, but we couldn’t.”

Joe Hart appeared to disagree with his manager, saying the visitors did not do enough to win.

He told Sky Sports: “I think myself and John Ruddy could have had the afternoon off today.

I don’t think we were good enough to win it if I’m honest.”

Graham Dorrans had a good opportunity for Norwich in the second half, but did not hit the target.

Norwich boss Neil said: “Unfortunately he didn’t make good contact and it went past the post.”

Neil believes Norwich, who are still to play Newcastle and Sunderland at Carrow Road, can avoid the drop.

“I didn’t need that performance to strengthen my belief,” the Scot added.

“I believe we’re good enough to do it. What it will do is help the squad and the fans and everybody connected with Norwich.

“The amount of effort the players are putting in to stay in this league can’t be questioned and the fans responded.

“We need to win games. It’s as simple as that.”

On the clean sheet, Neil added: “To be honest, I’d take a 2-1.

It’s just one of those where if you’re not going to score, it’s really important you keep it tight at the back.

“Our game management, our decision-making in the game was better than recent weeks.”

Winger Nathan Redmond went off in the first half and Neil added: “(He) just went over on his ankle.

He just rolled it.

“It’s a concern for us because he’s a key player.

We’re hoping it’s not going to be too bad.”

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Norwich stand firm to further dent Manchester City's faltering title bid …

Manchester City’s title aspirations slipped further in a goalless draw at Carrow Road which did little to boost Norwich’s hopes of Barclays Premier League survival.

Manuel Pellegrini had said the visitors would need to win at least nine of their remaining 10 games to win the title, so victory at Norwich was a must.

But it was Alex Neil’s relegation-threatened side who came closest to scoring as Patrick Bamford hit the crossbar in the first half.

The point was just Norwich’s second in 10 games and the clean sheet was their first since their most recent win, over Southampton at the turn of the year, while City are nine points behind leaders Leicester.

City now turn their attentions to Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Dynamo Kiev and next Sunday’s Premier League derby with Manchester United.

For teams with title aspirations, victory at relegation candidates Norwich should be a formality. It was anything but for City, whose only half-decent performer was Sergio Aguero.

John Ruddy dealt unconvincingly with a free-kick from Aguero, who then shot narrowly wide across goal.

The Argentina striker next ran at the Norwich defence and Ruddy made a sharp save to his right.

Norwich were set up not to concede, having last claimed a clean sheet on January 2. A 3-0 FA Cup third-round loss to City at Carrow Road was the first fixture of that 11-game run, but the visitors showed nothing like the same cutting edge this time around.

On loan Chelsea striker Bamford came close to upsetting City on his first start.

Nicolas Otamendi allowed the ball to bounce and Bamford waited patiently for it to drop.

Once it settled, he sweetly swung his left-foot and the result was a 25-yard volley which Joe Hart watched hit his crossbar.

That effort and a tackle by Jonny Howson on Aguero seemed to galvanise Norwich. Matt Jarvis, who switched to the right when Nathan Redmond limped off with what appeared to be a calf problem, next went close.

Jarvis’ deflected shot looped just wide and referee Jon Moss ruled there was no time to take the resulting corner, much to Gary O’Neil’s annoyance.

O’Neil was a nuisance throughout. The midfielder was one of a number of Norwich players who made a habit of bundling David Silva to ground as agricultural won over cultured play.

Still Aguero was City’s most threatening player, yet his efforts were not matched by team-mates.

The anonymous Wilfried Bony was replaced by Raheem Sterling and Aguero became the attacking focal point.

He tumbled into the area after running at Tim Klose, but Moss was correct in adjudging the foul to have taken place outside the area.

Silva’s free-kick went into the wall. It summed up City’s efforts.

Dorrans shot wide for Norwich and Aguero blasted over as he tried to find an 88th-minute winner, but even he could not prevent the stalemate.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

“Tremendous point for Norwich. Clean sheet v City real achievement and stops rot, shows players up for fight.” – BT Sport Football commentator Ian Darke points out the significance of the point Norwich gained as they battle relegation.

PLAYER RATINGS

Norwich

John Ruddy: 7 (out of 10)

Russell Martin: 6

Martin Olsson: 6

Ryan Bennett: 6

Tim Klose: 7

Jonny Howson: 7

Gary O’Neil: 6

Nathan Redmond: 6

Patrick Bamford: 6

Wes Hoolahan: 5

Matt Jarvis: 6

Substitutes:

Graham Dorrans (for Redmond, 44 minutes): 6

Dieumerci Mbokani (for Hoolahan, 67): 6

Cameron Jerome (for Bamford, 67): 6

Manchester City

Joe Hart: 6

Bacary Sagna: 6

Gael Clichy: 6

Vincent Kompany: 7

Nicolas Otamendi: 6

Fernando: 6

Fernandinho: 7

Jesus Navas: 5

Wilfried Bony: 5

Sergio Aguero: 8

David Silva: 6

Substitutes:

Raheem Sterling (for Bony, 58): 6

Kelechi Iheanacho (for Navas, 77): 6

Pablo Zabaleta (for Sagna, 85): 6

STAR PLAYER

Sergio Aguero.

The Argentina striker’s quality shone in an otherwise disappointing display from a team whose title aspirations slipped.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Joe Hart could only watch as on loan Chelsea striker Bamford’s sweetly struck volley hit the bar.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Norwich made four changes after the loss at Swansea, with two enforced following injuries to Robbie Brady and Steven Naismith. The Canaries were set up to be difficult to break down, but even when Redmond was on they lacked the incisiveness to cause the visitors trouble on the counter attack. City made one change, following their 4-0 defeat of Aston Villa, with the injured Yaya Toure replaced by Fernando.

Sterling and Iheanacho did not have the desired impact off the bench as the match ended in a stalemate.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

Manchester City arrived with Pellegrini calling for nine wins from 10 games. Dropped points at Carrow Road would not have been on his mind, but his side’s performance, with the exception of Aguero, was lacklustre and half-hearted.

WHO’S UP NEXT

West Brom v Norwich (Barclays Premier League, Saturday, March 19)

Manchester City v Dynamo Kiev (Champions League last-16 second leg, Tuesday, March 15)

Norwich manager Alex Neil said on Sky Sports 1: “I think in terms of effort and endeavour for the players, I couldn’t ask for any more.”

Neil believes Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastle are battling it out between them for survival in the Premier League but takes comfort that the two north-east teams still have to go to Carrow Road.

“Looking at the table, they seem to be the three teams involved in it now,” he said.

“Certainly at the moment we just want to try and be above the teams in and about us, and the other two teams that are there just now.

“We’ve got it in our own hands; we’ve got the two relegation rivals to come here. If we can put on a performance and make sure we win those two games it gives us a strong position to go from.”

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart felt his side did not deserve to come away with a victory.

He said: “I think myself and (Norwich goalkeeper) John Ruddy could have had the afternoon off today, so disappointing result for us.

“You’ve got to give credit to Norwich, they defended with numbers and changed the team a little bit today.

It’s worked for them but I’m not really bothered about what they do, it’s about what we do and we weren’t good enough today.

“I don’t think we were good enough to win it if I’m honest.”

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Norwich stand firm to further dent Manchester City's faltering title bid …

Sergio Aguero has 'a lot more years in Europe', says Manuel …

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini believes Sergio Aguero could still have a long future at the club.

The prolific Argentina striker was quoted this week saying he intends to return to boyhood club Independiente when his current contract at the Etihad Stadium expires.

The 27-year-old, who has scored 128 goals for City since his 38million arrival in 2011, is committed to the club until 2019.

City were understood to be keen to discuss new terms and Pellegrini, although he himself is leaving in the summer, thinks that could yet happen.

Pellegrini said: “Sergio knows why he wants to do it. It’s difficult to talk about what will happen in two or three years more because players change their minds.

“Maybe he can be happy to return to Argentina but Kun has a lot more years here in Europe.”

Pellegrini’s main focus is the short term and pulling City back into the title race.

City are playing catch-up in the Barclays Premier League after an inconsistent season but ended a run of three successive defeats with a comprehensive victory over bottom side Aston Villa last weekend.

They sit fourth, trailing leaders Leicester by 10 points with a game in hand, heading into this weekend’s fixtures but are used to coming from behind. They did so to take the crown in 2012 and 2014 and Pellegrini wants to lead another charge.

The Chilean, who takes his team to struggling Norwich on Saturday, said: “We don’t depend just on the work we can do.

We cannot have the same points as Tottenham and Leicester if they win all their games.

“But if they win the title (we need to make sure) it’s because they win all their games and not because we couldn’t win ours.

“We’ll focus on trying to win at Norwich and we’ll see the way the other teams manage the pressure between now and the end of the season.

“The most important thing is that we don’t have margin of error. We need to win our games.”

After last week’s 4-0 defeat of Villa, City will be expected to similarly brush aside a Canaries team that have collected just one point from their last nine games to slip into the bottom three.

But, speaking at his pre-match press conference, Pellegrini said: “When you must play against teams in relegation positions it is always very difficult because they don’t have much to lose.

“They must try to win their points, especially at home, so I’m sure we will find them a very difficult team. It will be a very tough game if we want to win the three points.”

The trip to Carrow Road, for which City will be without Yaya Toure, comes at the start of another critical week.

City face Dynamo Kiev in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday and then host rivals Manchester United next Saturday.

Pellegrini said: “It is very important because if we win the next two games in the Premier League the pressure will be more on the other teams.

“If we can get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time of course that will be another important achievement.

“I hope that we will do that but we must start thinking just about Norwich.”

Continue reading here: Sergio Aguero has 'a lot more years in Europe', says Manuel …