Summary: City could not find a way past the Blades’ defence, but it was the visitors who came closest to scoring when Rob Hulse hit the crossbar from an overhead kick just before the break. Bernardo Corradi’s second-half header was parried by Kenny, and Samaras blazed over the bar in what was City’s most promising moment.

Team news: Nick Weaver failed to recover from a back strain picked up in training, so Joe Hart made his City debut, and Kasper Schmeichel was called back from his loan at Bury to take Hart’s place on the bench.

Hatem Trabelsi returned and made his home debut after recovering from his groin injury and played on the right of midfield, with Trevor Sinclair moving over to the left as he did against Blackburn Rovers.

Eighteen-year-old Michael Johnson was on the bench for the first time, having impressed at youth and reserve team level.

The Match

Joe Hart was the first keeper to be called into action after a quiet opening 20 minutes, where both sides struggled to take a grip on proceedings. Keith Gillespie curled in a free kick from the left, but City’s young stopper came a long way off his line to punch the ball clear.

City had their first chance from a Barton free kick three minutes later, Corradi stabbing the ball over first-time from the edge of the six yard box.

The crowd came to life on 36 minutes when Didi Hamann lifted the ball over the defence and into the path of Samaras. The Greek striker moved into the area and tried to slide the ball in from an angle, but his shot was blocked well by Paddy Kenny.

With four minutes to go to the break, Alan Quinn tried to curl the ball in from 20 yards but Joe Hart was right behind the United midfielder’s weak effort.

But City had a scare a minute later. Rob Hulse’s overhead kick from eight yards out, from a flicked on throw-in, beat Hart but rebounded off the crossbar.

The former Leeds striker moved into a dangerous position in stoppage time, but Richard Dunne robbed him superbly and allowed Jordan to clear.

Half time City 0-0 Sheffield United

Ishmael Miller replaced Stephen Jordan at the break, with Micah Richards moving to left back. Hatem Trabelsi moved to right back, allowing Trevor Sinclair to swap flanks in midfield.

There was a scare for Joe Hart early in the second half, the former Shrewsbury player dropping a long throw in from Bromby. Thankfully Trabelsi and Distin were on hand to clear the danger.

Samaras broke free on 50 minutes, but his shot was drilled a couple of yards wide of the post.

The best chance of the game so far for City came with 58 minutes gone. Trabelsi burst down the right and crossed towards Corradi, but the Italian’s powerful header went straight at Kenny, who parried the ball away. Samaras steamed onto the rebound but blazed the ball over the bar.

Pressure from Corradi forced Kenny into dropping the ball from a Bromby back-header three minutes later, but Dunne’s attempt on the follow-up was blocked and the score remained at 0-0.

It was a different game to the one from before the break now, and Alan Quinn drove a first-time shot over Hart’s bar from near the City penalty spot on 64.

City had a free kick with 16 minutes to go, but Ishmael Miller, charging into the box, put his header over Kenny’s bar.

Hulse got behind City with 10 minutes left and passed towards Tonge, but Micah Richards timed his challenge to perfection and the ball rolled gently back to Hart.

Samaras tried an overhead kick of his own from a Barton chip just after, but unlike Rob Hulse earlier he failed to connect.

City had a spell of sustained pressure but when United broke away, Richard Dunne was on hand once again at just the right time to deny Rob Hulse.

Micah Richards headed wide from another Barton free kick on 87 minutes, but in the end, despite the upping of the tempo after half time, City could not get past the Blades’ defence and the game ended 0-0.