English Premier League Manchester City were held to a goalless draw by Greek outfit Aris Salonika tonight in their UEFA Europa League round of 32 encounter.
City had the lion's share of the game but Salonika's defence held strong. Roberto Mancini was not deterred by the draw since the return leg will be on home soil.
"This result is better than 1-1. We have a chance because we are at home. It will be a different pitch," Mancini said. "I think it will be a different game in Manchester. We played well, we played football and controlled the game. Aris stayed behind the ball. It was a fantastic atmosphere."
New signing from Wolfsburg Edin Dzeko struck early in the 16th minute with a close range shot and later followed up with a strike straight to the goalkeeper's gloves. He could not convert Aleksandar Kolarov's low cross as the home keeper Michalis Sifakis saved the Bosnian's header.
Coming on as a late substitute, Mario Balotelli sent an overhead kick wide in the closing stages as the Greeks' record of not losing the last 24 European matches at their Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium remained intact. This match marked the return to action of youngster Ballotelli for his first appearance since sustaining a knee injury in December.
Even so, the history books show that previous English visitors Chelsea and Ipswich were similarly unable to score a success at the venue but then landed the 1970 UEFA European Cup Winners' Cup and the 1981 UEFA Europa Cup respectively.
Mancini could not be faulted for his offensive strategy as he lined up Dzeko as well as Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Shaun Wright-Phillips, but their collective efforts came to naught.