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Premier League: Manchester City 1 Reading 0

Manchester City kept pace with title rivals Manchester United as they claimed a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Reading thanks to Gareth Barry.

The English Premier League champions were in command for the vast majority of the game at the Etihad Stadium.

But they were only able to make their advantage tell when England midfielder Barry headed in David Silva’s cross in added time.

The crucial win sees City close the gap on United to three points, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to face Swansea City on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini’s men should have taken the lead early but were denied by Adam Federici, who produced a superb close-range save from Tevez after the Argentine had latched on to compatriot Sergio Aguero’s fine flick-on.

Reading defended resolutely following that early opening and frustrated City for much of the first half.

City were able to create some opportunities, most notably when Barry powered a header towards goal from a Tevez cross, only to see his effort comfortably held by Federici.

The hosts continued to pile the pressure on the Reading goal, but the opener continued to elude them.

Yaya Toure had a claim for a penalty turned down after Tevez and Silva combined beautifully on the right, and Pablo Zabaleta was also unlucky not to have netted when his deflected shot looped just over.

Reading had been on the back foot for the entirety of the first half, but they almost grabbed the advantage early in the second as Alex Pearce headed just over from an Ian Harte corner.

It was the home side who carried the much greater threat, and will have wondered just how they had not taken the lead when Zabaleta’s ball evaded both Tevez and substitute Edin Dzeko with the goal gaping.

The introduction of Dzeko appeared to galvanise City and he was at the centre of another attack minutes later, heading inches over from a Tevez corner.

Brian McDermott’s side again went close as Pearce directed another header just wide from a fine set-piece delivery from Harte.

Aguero, the hero of City’s title-winning campaign last season, almost gave the home fans another late showing as he broke free before firing into the side netting.

But it was Barry who delivered the finale when he powered in a header in the dying moments to maintain City’s title tilt.

Sat 22 December, 2012
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