• Premier League round-up

City leave it late as Arsenal leapfrog Spurs, Reds cruise

ESPN staff
December 22, 2012
Gareth Barry's 93rd minute winner earned three points for Manchester City © PA Photos

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Gareth Barry scored a last-gasp winner as Manchester City broke Reading hearts, while Arsenal beat Wigan to leapfrog Tottenham, who were held to a goalless draw by Stoke. Everton came from behind to beat West Ham, while Norwich's unbeaten run came to an end at West Brom.

Premier League table & results

Manchester City closed the gap on leaders Manchester United in the Premier League title race as Gareth Barry scored a dramatic late winner to sink Reading 1-0.

Barry scored in the dying minutes to earn three points at Etihad Stadium after the Royals had frustrated the champions for 90 minutes. Reading have the leakiest defence in the Premier League, but neither Sergio Aguero nor Carlos Tevez could make the home side's dominance count in the first half.

The visitors stuck to their game plan, often playing with eight in defence and camped in their own half for most of the match. They had their own chances to snatch a goal, and Jay Tabb felt aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty after he was checked by debutant Karim Rekik.

Reading looked to have done enough to earn a point and stem a run of six successive defeats, but suffered a heartbreaking defeat after Barry nodded David Silva's cross into the bottom corner in the 93rd minute.

Arsenal climbed to the dizzy heights of third in the Premier League table with a 1-0 win at Wigan in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.

The Gunners and their manager Arsene Wenger have come in for criticism this season, but they produced a battling display to claim a third straight win in the Premier League and consign Wigan to Christmas in the relegation places.

It was not vintage Arsenal in dire weather, but they kept plugging away and a Mikel Arteta penalty on 59 minutes after Theo Walcott had been felled in the box by Jean Beausejour sealed the three points.

Tottenham missed the chance to move into third as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Stoke City at White Hart Lane.

Spurs had won four of their last five matches, but were fortunate not to fall behind early when Kenwyne Jones blasted over after Kyle Walker had given the ball away in defence.

Gareth Bale, back from a hamstring injury, showed Spurs what they had been missing, and his cross to the far post found Emmanuel Adebayor, whose header looped well off target. In a game of few chances Jermain Defoe's long-range effort flew wide while Bale headed over from six yards from Aaron Lennon's cross.

Stewart Downing played a starring role as Liverpool returned to winning ways with a resounding 4-0 win over Fulham.

The Reds suffered a shock home defeat to Aston Villa last weekend, but Downing restored festive cheer at Anfield, scoring one and providing another as they cruised to victory.

Stewart Downing scored his first Premier League goal © Getty Images

Martin Skrtel gave the Reds an early lead with a thumping volley before Steven Gerrard doubled the scoreline after being fed through by a lovely Downing through-ball.

Downing then scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool, beating former Reds defender John Arne Riise before rifling in a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area. Luis Suarez put the icing on the cake with a fourth in injury time as Liverpool moved up to eighth.

Steven Pienaar scored the winner as Everton came from behind to beat West Ham 2-1 Upton Park as both teams ended the game with ten men.

West Ham took the lead just moments after Everton had a goal disallowed in the first half before the Toffees launched a second-half fightback to earn all three points.

Leon Osman's header found the back of the net from a corner, but referee Anthony Taylor deemed that Victor Anichebe had impeded Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Carlton Cole added insult to injury just two minutes later, turning neatly to beat the Everton defence to smash the ball past Tim Howard from the edge of the area.

But Everton made a bright start to second half, Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson both threatening Jaaskelainen's goal, although the visitors were leaving themselves open to breaks. But they were soon rewarded for their pressure, and Victor Anichebe rose to meet Pienaar's whipped cross to draw Everton level.

Sam Allardyce was left fuming when Cole was given his marching orders after he caught Leighton Baines with his studs. And the sending off proved costly as Everton made the most of their numerical advantage, Pienaar bundling home from close range after some neat play from Osman.

Gibson was sent off in the dying minutes for a high challenge on Mark Noble, but Everton held on for the victory.

Shola Ameobi scored the winner for Newcastle © PA Photos

Newcastle secured a much-needed three points as they earned a narrow 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at St James' Park.

In a poor game of few chances, Harry Redknapp's unbeaten start to life as QPR manager came to an end as Shola Amoebi scored a late winner to earn three points for the Magpies.

Adel Taarabt, who scored twice to inspire the Hoops to their first victory of the season last weekend, showed glimpses of brilliance, waltzing through the Newcastle defence, but Djibril Cisse could only find the sidenetting.

But Ameobi, on as a substitute for Papiss Cisse, collected a pass from Sylvain Marveaux before cutting inside and stroking a neat strike past Robert Green.

Southampton are hovering dangerously above the bottom three on goal difference after they were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland at St Mary's Stadium.

Ricky Lambert had a handful of chances to give the hosts an early lead, but his free-kick was deflected wide.

Saints had been in a good run of form after taking 11 points from their last six matches, but it was Sunderland, who had won just one of their last 16 away matches, who took all three points thanks to Steven Fletcher's eighth goal of the season.

Stephane Sessegnon's scuffed shot found its way to Steven Fletcher, who smashed home from close range shortly before half-time.

Southampton continued to press and came close to grabbing an equaliser, with both Guilherme Do Prado and Gaston Ramirez having shots blocked in the dying stages.

Norwich's unbeaten run came to an end as they were beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion. The Canaries took an early lead at The Hawthorns courtesy of Robert Snodgrass' free-kick, but Romelu Lukaku scored the winner after Zoltan Gera's equaliser.

Ben Foster, returning to first-team action after a double hernia operation, was called into action early, and looked rusty as he was beaten by Snodgrass' free-kick. Snodgrass, who had been fouled by Peter Odemwingie from 25 yards, curled a superb effort into the top corner for his third goal in five games.

But the Baggies bounced back, Gera knocking in from close range after Mark Bunn could only push Jonas Olsson's header onto the bar. And Lukaku grabbed all three points with a late winner, burying a powerful header to beat Bunn.

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