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What They Said: Mancini: City deserved late Barry winner

ESPN staff
December 22, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

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Premier League round-up: City leave it late as Arsenal leapfrog Tottenham

Roberto Mancini was adamant that Manchester City deserved the victory as they left it late as Gareth Barry's stoppage time winner sunk Reading 1-0.

"It was difficult. We had lots of possession but if you don't score early it is very difficult. You have to be patient but if we had scored one goal in the first half it would have changed the game. You need to score quickly in these games and sometimes you take a risk to score. I think we deserved to win."

Reading boss Brian McDermott disagreed and felt Barry's goal only came as a result of a foul on Nicky Shorey. The Royals had defended stoutly for over 90 minutes.

"I cannot believe that has happened to us. That goal at the end is just wrong. He is on Nicky Shorey's back and it is an absolutely certain foul. That decision today has killed us. "I spoke to the referee and he said he hung in the air. You can hang in the air if you are someone's back - you have got to get those decisions right. I am gutted for our players tonight because they were terrific and they deserved a point."

Arsenal secured a third Premier League win on the spin with a gutsy 1-0 victory at Wigan. Arsene Wenger feels the manner of the win will fill his players with belief for the second half of the season.

"It was a difficult game but that will give us belief and confidence," Wenger told Sky Sports. "They went for us and it's a good result. They stopped us from playing. We weren't as fluent and sharp as Monday."

Offering words of praise to Wigan, who are third from bottom, Wenger said: "They had great desire. They are in the wrong position in the table. They have a very good midfield and their full-backs did very well."

Roberto Martinez was filled with pride following his Wigan side's 1-0 loss to Arsenal,as he believes big moments changed the outcome of the game.

He said: "I thought we played really, really well. In many ways, we took the ball away from Arsenal and played with a big mentality. I could not be prouder. There were two or three key moments that could have changed the scoreline. "The first one is when Arouna Kone gets one v one and Szczesny stands firm. The first goal was going to be crucial and I thought the penalty was very soft. Theo Walcott is very clever there. At the other end, there was an incident for a penalty where the hands were not in a natural position.

"The players do not deserve the feeling they have got now. We have done enough to win the game. But we are in the middle of that period where calls are not going our way, we have players missing. But I could not be prouder of the performance and mentality and football we showed today. If we can replicate this level between now and the end of the season we will get many, many points. The performance was outstanding."

Andre Villas-Boas was disappointed to see Tottenham drop below Arsenal after his team were held to a goalless draw by stubborn Stoke at White Hart Lane.

"No one enjoys being level on points with Arsenal at this club,'' Villas-Boas said. "I have experienced this rivalry for the first time this year and I have spoken very highly about it before.

"It is an extremely healthy competition between both teams, but we have to continue now. Today was a difficult game. Stoke are an extremely competitive and physical team who are difficult to break down. I want to be extremely positive as the players really tried hard.''

Spurs had to resort to long shots for most of the match and Tony Pulis was very happy with his team's shut out against one of the quickest attacks in the league.

"We are delighted. That's nine clean sheets now,'' Pulis said. "We look solid defensively. They had a few shots from outside box and that one great save from Asmir so we are very pleased with how we played.

"We talk about the two centre-halves and the goalkeeper, but I think all the players work so hard on organisation and discipline. It's a great point at a great football club.''

Alan Pardew hailed Shola Ameobi after seeing the striker come off the bench to fire Newcastle to a much-needed victory over lowly QPR.

"I know the crowd weren't particularly pleased when I took [Papiss] Cisse, a goalscorer, off but I just felt Shola, he's a big man and this was a big occasion and he likes big occasions. It said QPR on the programme but really it was bigger than that, I think we all knew that and he has that calm head - he knows what is demanded here - to produce a quality goal, and it won us the game. I wanted to get Shola on the pitch, and thank goodness I did because it was a really class finish."

QPR boss Harry Redknapp, who launched a scathing attack on members of his squad, admitted his side had been hanging on when Ameobi settled the game.

He said: "I thought we were going to hang on and nick a draw. I couldn't see us winning, but we just couldn't see it through. I thought we could hang on for a good point to keep us going, but it just wasn't to be.''

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes were united in their condemnation of referee Anthony Taylor after he controversially sent off both Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in Everton's 2-1 win at West Ham.

Allardyce said: "It is how quickly the referee got the red card out, he couldn't wait, he didn't deliberate over the decision or anything. There is nothing much we can do about the result but we can appeal the decision and hopefully we can get Carlton down to a yellow card and get him off.''

Moyes added: "I will appeal it. I'll have a word with Sam as well, because I don't think you could put the word frivolous next to that appeal. Because I think you would say there was genuine reason why maybe you could appeal that."

Martin O'Neill believes Sunderland will go into their tough festive fixtures boosted by a "massive" win 1-0 at fellow strugglers Southampton. Steven Fletcher's eight goal of the season proved the difference between the sides at St Mary's.

"In the last three games, we've been able to win two games against sides beside us at this moment. It has been a tough old season right from the start and I just feel that win today, obviously before Christmas and with the programme we have coming up in the next three games, is massive for us.

"We got a bit of confidence from that, although we have a fair few games to go. The game was very tight as I expected it to be. Southampton are in really good form, particularly here, and they are on a good run at the moment."

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins, meanwhile, was left frustrated as his side failed to get going after a two-week break.

"It just didn't happen for us today," he said. "For me, it was uncharacteristically flat for whatever reason. Obviously I will digest that and with the goal we conceded just before half-time, there are two or three people that could have done better in stopping the goal.

"That has obviously given Sunderland something to hang onto in the second half and, to give them credit, they defended well. We tried to change things around early to give ourselves an opportunity to increase the tempo, find a way forward, stretch the game to create openings, but unfortunately we haven't scored any goals."

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