Manchester City 1 Reading 0: Barry leaves it late to rescue champions
17:15 GMT, 22 December 2012
Gareth Barry headed a last-gasp winner as champions Manchester City denied Reading an unexpected and morale-boosting point at the Etihad Stadium.
City created numerous chances in a mostly one-sided affair completed in heavy rain but the visitors looked set to hold firm and lift themselves off the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
But City fought to the end and Barry got on the end of a cross from David Silva to head home in injury time.
Last gasp: Gareth Barry celebrates scoring City's winner with David Silva
Living on the edge: A frustrated Carlos Tevez bemoans a wasted chance as it seemed City would drop points
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Nastasic, Rekik (Milner 84), Barry, Javi Garcia (Dzeko 58), Y Toure, Silva, Aguero, Tevez.
Subs not used: Wright, Kompany, Lescott, Razak.
Booked: Y Toure, Aguero.
Goal: Barry 90.
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte (Shorey 86), McAnuff, Leigertwood, Karacan (Guthrie 70), Tabb, Kebe, Pogrebnyak.
Subs not used: Taylor, Le Fondre, Hunt, Gorkss, Robson-Kanu.
Booked: Gunter, Mariappa, Leighterwood.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral)
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A seventh successive defeat was harsh on Reading, who after slumping 5-2 to Arsenal on Monday were much more resilient.
Under-pressure manager Brian McDermott
always knew the game was a tough assignment but was moments away from
claiming a more than creditable draw.
McDermott had made four changes with
Jem Karacan returning from injury to make his first appearance since
October while Chris Gunter, Ian Harte and Alex Pearce also came in.
It took less than two minutes for
Adrian Mariappa to collect the game's first booking as he clattered into
Carlos Tevez in an early attempt to impose himself.
Thereafter the visitors spent most of
the rest of the first half on the back foot, with Mariappa and Pearce
particularly working hard to repel attack after attack.
City could only curse their luck as they carved out several opportunities but failed to take them.
Getting to grips: Reading mostly coped well with their more illustrious opponents
Blocked off: Sergio Aguero's threat was snuffled out as Reading defended manfully until the end
The hosts were so dominant that
18-year-old Karim Rekik, making his Premier League debut at left-back in
the absence of Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov, was able to get
through mostly untested.
The centre-back pairing of Kolo Toure
and Matija Nastasic, while senior duo Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott
looked on from the bench, also had a largely comfortable afternoon.
Tevez played in strike partner Sergio Aguero for City's first serious opportunity but Adam Federici rushed out to claim.
Aguero made another good run to reach
the byline but his cross evaded everybody before Javi Garcia planted a
firm header straight at Federici.
Silva played a neat one-two with Tevez
but shot wide and Aguero then teed up Tevez but Federici saved. The
ball rebounded to Tevez but his follow-up was deflected over.
A rare attack from Reading saw Karacan shoot well wide but City responded with Tevez crossing for Barry to head at Federici.
Waiting for the breakthrough: Sergio Aguero skips over Federici as another chance goes begging
Pressure: David Silva tried to help City breech Reading's defence
Silva jinked his way through the area
to create another opportunity but Reading scrambled clear as Yaya Toure
and Tevez jostled to reach his cross. Toure claimed he was impeded but
referee Mike Dean saw nothing untoward.
Pablo Zabaleta had an effort deflected over and Nastasic also missed the target as City maintained the pressure.
Aguero burst through just before the
break but Reading closed down shooting angles and Tevez could not get on
the end of his cross.
Tevez threatened after the restart but could only shoot at Federici.
Tevez tried his luck again from a
free-kick outside the area but his curling effort was pushed away from
the top corner by the Reading keeper.
Can't complain: Reading boss Brian McDermott will be pleased with the showing from his men
All action: Barry fights for the ball as City refused to give up
Reading could have snatched a shock
lead when Pearce got forward to win a clear header from a Harte corner
but his effort was well wide.
City boss Roberto Mancini decided it was time for change and sent on Edin Dzeko for the mostly ineffective Garcia.
The Bosnian was quickly into the action and was millimetres away from connecting with a header after good work by Zabaleta.
Dzeko did win a clean header at a corner on 66 minutes but his attempt flew narrowly over the bar.
No you don't: Adrian Mariappa slides in to try and block Silva's effort on goal
There were clear signs that the home
fans were growing frustrated with their side's ineffectiveness in front
of goal as the game wore on.
Mancini made another change as Scott
Sinclair came on for Tevez but it was Reading who next threatened as
Pavel Pogrebnyak broke and crossed for Jay Tabb.
Tabb went down after colliding with
Rekik but Dean did not feel there was a foul and nor did he see a
possible handball against Nastasic as the ball came in.
Reading grew in confidence and and
Pearce headed another good chance wide after Jimmy Kebe had won a corner
with a good break down the right.
As the game moved into four minutes of injury time, City launched a final push.
Aguero fired into the side-netting but
Barry came good as he jumped above the defence to reach Silva's ball
and head firmly past Federici.