Reading manager Brian McDermott claimed his Christmas had been ruined after Manchester City scored a late winner against his side he felt should not have stood.
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Gareth Barry headed home in injury time as the champions snatched a last-gasp 1-0 win to deny the bottom club what would have been a hard-earned Barclays Premier League point at the Etihad Stadium.
McDermott felt Barry illegally jumped on the back of one of his players as he leapt to reach David Silva's cross but referee Mike Dean saw nothing untoward.
Dean had been similarly unmoved when Jay Tabb went down in the area after a collision with City youngster Karim Rekik during a second half Reading counter-attack.
When asked about the winning goal, McDermott said: "Absolute joke. We have had that a few times this season and even the Tabb penalty - it was a penalty.
"We have had three or four of those, we have had a handball goal against us and an offside goal against us - all of which have cost us points.
"To get that wrong - I have just said to him (Dean) he will be gutted he's missed that. He hung in the air, but you can hang in the air all day long if you are on someone's back.
"It's an absolute cert foul, it cannot be anything else. But listen, the bottom line is we are Reading. We are a small club in this league punching above our weight.
"That will be irrelevant to you guys because Man City have won, but it is not to us. We love this club we have got, we have got a real passion. We will fight, we have 20 games to go, but we certainly deserved a draw at least."
He later added: "But just to let you know, that has just ruined my Christmas."
A seventh successive defeat was harsh on Reading but McDermott, whose side have accumulated just nine points from 18 games, is determined to battle on.
He said: "We have to take consolation from that, we have to take the positives because that is what you have to do. We have got to move on.
"I honestly thought we were going to get something. Even in the first half there were a couple of incidents where we might have got something on the break.
"I'm really disappointed for our fans today and really disappointed for the players because they didn't deserve that."
Despite McDermott's frustrations after a resilient defensive display, City were the superior side throughout.
The hosts created numerous chances but lacked a cutting edge and manager Roberto Mancini was again left to bemoan his side's wastefulness.
The Italian said: "I think we deserved to win but when you are in the last two or three minutes of extra time, it could be difficult.
"These games, if you don't score in the first half when you have a lot of chances to score, I think they can be strong.
"They played well, they defended well, for 90 minutes with all players behind the ball. We didn't find space to score.
"When you have one chance, you have to score. In the end, I am happy with the victory but we had a big problem."
The match was City's last home game of 2012 and they won it in a manner in keeping with the rest of the year, notably last season's title decider.
The win denied Manchester United the opportunity to open up an eight-point lead at the top of the table and Mancini was pleased with the character shown.
He said: "In this we have improved a lot. We want to recover so when we are losing we try until the end to score, to recover the game.
"Our character is strong. Sometimes you can win, sometimes you can't but I am very happy because we have recovered a lot of games like today.
"But it is more important to score before. If not my heart is not strong."
Mancini had a different opinion on Barry's goal to McDermott.
"No foul, absolutely not," he said.
Striker Mario Balotelli did not play having missed some training sessions this week through illness.
Mancini was not concerned about reports the 22-year-old had been spotted elsewhere in Manchester on Saturday.
He said: "Mario is ill. I don't know where is now. For one week he was ill.
"He came to the training ground yesterday because he wanted to train but he couldn't. I can't close him in his house, it is impossible."