Manchester City drew a blank for the second time this week to lose vital ground in the title race with a 0-0 draw against Norwich City.
Manuel Pellegrini's previously free-scoring side – who last month reached 100 goals in all competitions faster than any team in the Premier League era - have run into unforeseen problems in their last two outings, losing the Premier League's top spot to Chelsea in the process.
A 1-0 loss at home to Jose Mourinho's side on Monday was compounded by another lacklustre display at Carrow Road – the absence of Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho due to a muscle strain once again keenly felt.
Alvaro Negredo headed a first-half corner against the crossbar but clear chances were in short supply as Norwich claimed an unexpected point in their fight for top-flight survival.
A win would have taken the 2012 champions top following Arsenal's 5-1 thrashing at Anfield, but Chelsea are now in the driving seat after easing past Newcastle 3-0.
On-loan Fenerbahce defender Joseph Yobo made his Norwich debut as a thigh injury ruled out Ryan Bennett.
James Milner returned from a groin complaint to bolster the visitors' injury-hit midfield, while Stevan Jovetic got the nod over Edin Dzeko to make his second Premier League start of the season in attack.
A prone Yobo scrambled to safety as playmaker David Silva appeared poised to convert Gael Clichy's early cross for Pellegrin's men, but the recalled France full-back was caught out in the 16th minute.
Norwich winger burst Nathan Redmond burst into the box when Clichy failed to cut out Gary Hooper's pass but blazed high and wide.
Hooper had the ball in the net two minutes later but was lurking in an offside position after Joe Hart parried Leroy Fer's header from a Redmond corner.
Manchester City came close from a similar dead-ball situation in the 36th minute – Negredo heading onto the crossbar following a Martin Demichelis flick-on from Jesus Navas' delivery.
Negredo crashed a rasping long-ranger into the side netting and, by the time John Ruddy kept out a stinging 20-yard strike from Jovetic in the 43rd minute, Pellegrini's charges were showing signs of hitting their stride.
Their customary rhythm remained largely elusive as the second half got under way, but Norwich full-back Martin Olsson produced an excellent last-ditch challenge to thwart Navas.
Russell Martin then positioned himself well to stop Jovetic converting Milner's looping right-wing cross.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel arrived from the bench after 68 minutes in place of Hooper, who hobbled away from a robust Milner challenge, but Norwich had faded as an attacking force by that point, though their excellent organisation continued to confound the title hopefuls.
Dzeko, on for Jovetic, pulled a shot into the side netting at the end of another fruitless attack and Pellegrini was left to rue a golden opportunity missed, while Van Wolfswinkle and Anthony Pilkington were both agonisingly close to handing Norwich an unlikely triumph.
|Coach: C. Hughton|
for G. Hooper 68'
for A. Pilkington 90+3'
|UEFA Europa League: Benfica 2 Juventus 1|
|UEFA Europa League: Sevilla 2 Valencia 0|
|Klopp: No United approach|
|Torino confirm Jansson signing|
|Ramires accepts FA charge, banned for four games|
|Serie A Preview: Inter v Napoli|
|Rossi ready to return|
|Premier League Preview: Stoke City v Tottenham|
|Mel targets four points for survival|
|Guilavogui blow for Saint-Etienne|
|Parker calms injury fears|
|We will not ease off - Jedinak|
|La Liga Preview: Real Madrid v Osasuna|
|Monk hopeful for Michu return|
|Cabaye closing in on second Ligue 1 title|
|Lambert intends to stay at Villa|
|Premier League Preview: West Brom v West Ham|
|Klopp: Plenty left to play for|
|Premier League Preview: Swansea City v Aston Villa|
|Ranieri focused on securing second place|
|Premier League Preview: Manchester United v Norwich City|
|Seedorf: Team unity behind Milan improvement|
|Adams expecting raucous Old Trafford|
|J.League Preview: Second meet fourth as leaders face Forlan|
|Premier League Preview: Fulham v Hull City|
|Premier League Preview: Southampton v Everton|
|Ligue 1 Preview: PSG on brink of title, Valenciennes fight for survival|
|CSL Preview: Guangzhou look to build on momentum|
|Olic signs new Wolfsburg deal|
|Olic signs new Wolfsburg deal|
|K-League Preview: Struggling Incheon face leaders Pohang|
|Bundesliga Preview: Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund|
|Suarez excited over Liverpool potential|
|Bundesliga Preview: Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen|
|Garcia has one eye on next season|
|CAF Confederation Cup Preview: Kaizer Chiefs in trouble, Al Ahly hold slender lead|
|Beck extends Hoffenheim stay|
|League Two Preview: Wycombe, Bristol Rovers in crunch relegation clash|
|UEFA bans for failing FFP unlikely - Platini|
|Coloccini: Current form not good enough|
|La Liga Preview: Barca seek to close on fatigued Atletico|
|We have underachieved, says Allardyce|
|Neymar ´genius´ will light up World Cup - Carlos|
|Milan deny sale rumours|
|Hughes eyes top-half finish|
|Ridgewell to miss next two games|
|Martinez keen to discuss Traore deal|
|Messi will shine in right ´climate´, Sabella insists|
|Suarez: We have surprised ourselves|
|Lucas thrilled to contribute in edgy PSG victory|
|Lahm rues lack of Bayern killer instinct|
|Sturridge boost massive for Liverpool - Henderson|
|Ronaldo in ´perfect´ condition|
|Lloris blasts Spurs|
|Copa Libertadores Wrap: Lanus advance|
|Klinsmann delighted for in-form Dempsey|
|Costa Rica Primera Division Wrap: UCR seal fourth spot|
|Sturridge hopeful of facing Chelsea|
|Liga MX Preview: Battle for play-off places continues|
|MLS Preview: Rimando on verge of record|
|CONCACAF Champions League: Toluca 1 Cruz Azul 1 (1-1 agg, Cruz Azul win on away goals)|
|MLS: New York Red Bulls 4 Houston Dynamo 0|
|Jesus excited by Juventus clash|
|Pizzi: Europa League semi a career highlight|
|A-League Preview: Wanderers welcome Mariners in semi-final|
|Ancelotti: Real survived without fit Bale, Ronaldo|
|Guardiola: Real ´unstoppable´ on the break|
|Ramos urges Real to be positive|
|Robben ´expected more´ from Real|
|UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0|
|Blanc hails match-winner Matuidi|
|Ligue 1 Wrap: PSG close in on title as Matuidi strike downs Evian|
|AFC Champions League Wrap: Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Bunyodkor leave it late to progress|
|Liverpool reveal Anfield expansion plans|
|Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Evian 0|
|Conte wary of fatigue factor|
|Januzaj opts to play for Belgium|
|Mourinho, Faria, Ramires charged by FA|
|Serie A Preview: Roma v Milan|
|Emery focused on first leg|
|Vorm endorses Van Gaal for United role|
|Hamann: Benitez would be a very good match for United|
|Verbeek reveals disappointment after Nuremberg axe|
|Dorrans can be the difference - Olsson|
|Hoger returns to Schalke training|
|Giggs not ready for United job, says May|
|Thauvin would welcome Bielsa arrival|
|Martinez will not rush Jagielka|
|Bremen to focus on developing young players|
|Brady hoping to win race against time|
|Alexis would take Juve to next level - Ravanelli|
|Champagne criticises ´polarisation´ of European football|
|Moyes breaks silence with dignified statement|
|Butland has learned plenty in Leeds stay|
|Bennett desperate for Norwich return|
|Icardi rumours inevitable, says agent|
|Championship Preview: Relegation likely for Yeovil Town, Barnsley|
|Moratti: Zanetti could have become Inter president|
|Giggs quick to ask for Scholes help|
|Giroud wants Arsenal stay, Wenger new deal|
|World Cup chance excites Ameobi|
|Barcelona transfer ban suspended|
|Rossi returns to training|
|Liverpool owners already planning for next season|
|Verbeek sacked by Nuremberg|
|League One Preview: Shrewsbury must win as relegation battle intensifies|
|Chelsea tie ´completely open´, says Filipe Luis|
|Title race will go to the wire - Pellegrini|
|Farina sacked by Sydney FC|
|Cech suffers dislocated shoulder|
|Ronaldo fitness will not be risked - Ancelotti|
|O´Farrell: Moyes sacking a growing trend|
|Serie A Preview: Juventus out to seal title, Roma host Milan|
|Leicester dominance unexpected, says Pearson|
|Copa Libertadores: Bolivar 1 Leon 1 (3-3 agg)|
|Bundesliga Preview: Nuremberg still fighting for survival|
|No regrets for Leonardo|
|Wilkins backs Ancelotti for United|
|Ayre: Champions League vital to attract stars|
|Mignolet: 30-goal Suarez ´amazing´|
|Giroud: I want to stay|
|Advantage Chelsea, says Simeone|
|Mourinho flags weakened Anfield line-up|