LONDON - Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester United in dramatic fashion as Gareth Barry's stoppage-time winner clinched a crucial 1-0 victory over Reading on Saturday.
With United not in action until Sunday's (Monday Fiji time) trip to Swansea, Roberto Mancini's team desperately needed to put pressure on their bitter rivals and they finally seized the opportunity in the closing minutes at Eastlands.
After labouring to break down struggling Reading for long periods, the champions broke the deadlock when England midfielder Barry headed home from a David Silva cross.
That was enough to move City within three points of United and keep their title challenge alive heading into the busy Christmas program, while Reading stay bottom after their 11th defeat of the season.
Reading boss Brian McDermott added: "That goal at the end is just wrong. He (Barry) is on Nicky Shorey's back and it is an absolutely certain foul."
Arsenal climbed to third place, nine points behind City, as Mikel Arteta's second half penalty sealed a 1-0 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium.
The only goal of a scrappy encounter arrived in the 60th minute when Spanish midfielder Arteta fired home from the spot after referee Jonathan Moss gave a penalty for Jean Beausejour's clip on Theo Walcott.
Everton surged into fourth place with a 2-1 win over West Ham at Upton Park.
That win for Everton meant Tottenham slipped down to fifth place after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Stoke at White Hart Lane.
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing finally ended his Premier League goal drought as the Reds beat Fulham 4-0 at Anfield to record their biggest win of the season.
Newcastle ended a miserable run of six defeats from their last seven league games as Shola Ameobi clinched a 1-0 victory against QPR at St James' Park.