Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 0, Birmingham City 0.
West Bromwich Albion returned to action after 105 days of inactivity to get the point they needed to go back above Leeds United and top the Championship table.
But only managing to draw against local rivals Birmingham City in their first game back after the coronavirus pandemic may yet prove costly.
Despite having 21 attempts, Albion registered just one shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.
In fact, on-loan Aston Villa striker Scott Hogan twice went close to causing an even bigger upset for Blues late on, as he each time forced home keeper Sam Johnstone into saves.
But the Baggies' failure to win at home for the 11th time in 19 home league games this season will be a real concern for boss Slaven Bilic.
The point against a badly weakened Blues side was enough to lift them back above Leeds - but only on goal difference.
And Marcelo Bielsa's side have a chance to return to the top on Sunday when they visit Cardiff City.
Albion now stand seven points clear of third-placed Fulham, who lost at home to Brentford, while Pep Clotet's battle-hardened Blues, who have only lost seven of their 20 away games this term, move seven points clear of trouble at the bottom.
Having lost several out-of-contact players during the enforced three-and-a-half-month break, Blues were further weakened by the loss of three injured players - Kristian Pedersen, Marc Roberts and Ivan Sunjic.
But they fought hard for their 12th Championship draw of the campaign to take into next Saturday's home date with relegation-threatened Hull City. Albion are back in action a night earlier with a now crucial test at fourth-placed Brentford.
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No fans, no fun in bore draw
When Blues entertained Albion at St Andrew's just before Christmas, Bilic's side twice came from behind to rouse the fans to win a five-goal thriller.
By contrast, in front of stark empty stands this time, just five miles up the road, the return fixture proved a total anti-climax, exemplifying just how important fans are to the game of football.
The first half was a pretty dreary affair, enlivened only by a far-post header which the game's one shining light, Matheus Pereira, powered just wide.
It did not liven up that much after the break.
Teenage midfielder Jude Bellingham curled just over for Blues, before Pereira, whose appearance triggered a clause in his loan deal which will see his loan move to The Hawthorns from Sporting Lisbon become permanent, was then involved each time as Albion threatened twice more at the other end.
After his left-foot free-kick span nastily behind the Blues wall, forcing keeper Lee Camp to come off his line to make a brave save, Pereira then drilled a shot just wide.
But, aside from a bit more Baggies pressure in stoppage time, Blues could even have won it, only for Hogan to head straight at Johnstone before going even closer with a well-struck volley.
'Missed opportunity' for Albion - reaction
West Bromwich Albion head coach Slaven Bilic told BBC Radio WM:
"I'm not happy. I'm disappointed with the result but the table looks better now. And there were a lot of positive things considering it was our first match back.
"Of course it was a missed opportunity. We deserved to win and but you have to be good enough in the final product.
"The number of shots and crosses we had were extremely high. But it comes down to sharpness. You need matches to get sharp. Everything else was there."
On the lack of atmosphere:
"We knew what it was going to be like that so I don't want to talk about that. It is forbidden to use those sort of excuses. It will be the same against Brentford."
Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet told BBC Radio WM:
"As it's the first game we've played after three months the last thing I wanted was an open game. But tactically the team was superb and we even had a couple of chances.
"In an open game, we would have given them too much advantage. West Brom had a lot of domination but both teams were as good as each other when it came to the final third.
"In the circumstances, we played the right game. Our mentality doesn't change. I hope this is enough. I'm sure it's going to be very crucial and we now have a game under our belt."
- 8LivermoreSubstituted forKrovinovicat 85'minutes
- 10PhillipsSubstituted forEdwardsat 60'minutesBooked at 75mins
- 12Costa PereiraSubstituted forZohoreat 85'minutes
- 47RobinsonSubstituted forDianganaat 60'minutes
- 4Robson-KanuSubstituted forAustinat 70'minutes
- 14Clarke-SalterBooked at 65mins
- 7CrowleyBooked at 29minsSubstituted forBoyd-Munceat 90+1'minutes
- 6KieftenbeldBooked at 90mins
- 22BellinghamSubstituted forBelaat 70'minutes
- Darren Bond
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 0, Birmingham City 0.
Attempt saved. Grady Diangana (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Filip Krovinovic.
Attempt missed. Kenneth Zohore (West Bromwich Albion) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the right. Assisted by Grady Diangana with a cross following a corner.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Caolan Boyd-Munce.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Attempt blocked. Filip Krovinovic (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Filip Krovinovic (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City).
Substitution, Birmingham City. Caolan Boyd-Munce replaces Daniel Crowley.
Attempt missed. Darnell Furlong (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Romaine Sawyers.
Attempt saved. Scott Hogan (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Crowley with a through ball.
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Kenneth Zohore replaces Matheus Pereira.
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Filip Krovinovic replaces Jake Livermore.
Grady Diangana (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Harlee Dean (Birmingham City).
Attempt saved. Scott Hogan (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Maikel Kieftenbeld with a cross.
Foul by Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion).
Scott Hogan (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.