Bottom club Aston Villa finally stopped the rot by holding Premier League leaders Manchester City to a 0-0 draw in new manager Remi Garde’s first match in charge on Sunday.
After seven consecutive league defeats, and one point from the last 30 on offer, had plunged Villa into crisis and cost Tim Sherwood his job, the former European champions produced a gritty display to frustrate City.
Villa keeper Brad Guzan made a remarkable save with his head after halftime to keep out Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne missed a sitter for the visitors who dominated possession without being able to find a way through.
The closest City came to taking the points was in stoppage time when Fernando’s thumping header shook the crossbar but Villa hung on for a well-earned draw.
City have 26 points from 12 matches and will be knocked off top spot if Arsenal (25) beat Tottenham Hotspur later in the north London derby at their Emirates Stadium.
Villa remain marooned at the bottom with five points from 12 games after their worst ever start to a top-flight season.
Yet there were some positive signs for Garde, who dropped regular starters Joleon Lescott and Jack Grealish to the bench.
They played some patient football in an even first half, occasionally threatening the City goal, and defended with great determination as City later began to dominate.
“We have been playing well and we have deserved more than four points,” Villa’s former City defender Micah Richards told Sky Sports. “Today is a massive draw for us.
“The new manager has come in and organised us. He has done well.”
City will be kicking themselves though.
Sterling looked poised to score when he met a Jesus Navas cross from close range but his header cannoned off the face of Guzan who knew nothing about it.
Navas then slid an inviting pass across the goalmouth but De Bruyne got his legs in a tangle and failed to make proper contact with the goal gaping.