Fri, Dec 08, 2006 - Page 21 News List

Newcastle allay relegation fears

AFP , LONDON

Newcastle's Obafemi Martins, left, picks up a bird from the pitch as Reading captain Graeme Murty, right, looks on during their English Premier League soccer match at St James' Park, Newcastle, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

Newcastle midfielder Emre hit a late winner as his side climbed out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 victory against Reading on Wednesday.

Glen Roeder's strugglers looked set to remain mired in the bottom three when James Harper's double strike put Reading 2-1 in front after Antoine Sibierski's opener.

But Newcastle staged a second half revival at St James' Park as Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins equalized from the penalty spot and Turkish star Emre stole all three points with just six minutes left.

Newcastle are now unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions, but this was just their second Premiership win in 11 attempts and lifted Roeder's side into 15th place.

Newcastle fans were less than enthusiastic when Sibierski arrived from Manchester City in August, but the French midfielder put his side in front in the 23rd minute.

Nolberto Solano played a one-two with Emre before curling in a cross which Sibierski met with a towering header past Marcus Hahnemann for his third goal in four matches.

Coppell's side hauled themselves level in the 37th minute when Harper's shot deflected off Solano and flashed past Shay Given.

Newcastle's notoriously fragile defense was visibly rattled by that setback and Reading took the lead in the 42nd minute.

Celestine Babayaro gifted possession to Glen Little and the Reading winger drove in a shot that Given parried to the edge of the area. Former Arsenal trainee Harper seized on the loose ball and gave Given no chance with a well-placed shot.

Newcastle equalized in the 57th minute when Sonko fouled Martins and the former Inter Milan star picked himself up to calmly convert the penalty for his first Premiership goal since September.

Reading would have gone third in the table with a point, but Emre left them empty-handed with a curling left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area in the 84th minute.

Elsewhere, West Ham slumped into the relegation zone as David Cotterill's strike and a Jonathan Spector own-goal earned Wigan a 2-0 win at Upton Park.

Alan Pardew's side have lost four of their last five matches and are now third bottom of the table after Newcastle's win edged them above the London club.

Wigan almost got off to the perfect start in the third minute when Australian midfielder Josip Skoko whipped in a free-kick and Paul Scharner's flick was pushed onto a post by Robert Green.

Marlon Harewood forced a stop from Chris Kirkland moments later as he ran onto Nigel Reo-Coker's pass and drove in a fierce shot.

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez hit the post soon after the interval, but Wigan stole the lead in the 51st minute when Cotterill collected Kevin Kilbane's pass and beat Green with a stunning strike.

Paul Jewell's team doubled their advantage seven minutes later when Baines took aim from 30 yards and the left-back's shot deflected off Spector and flew past Green to seal a first win in four matches for the Latics.

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