Everton consolidate fourth; Aston Villa leapfrog Liverpool

( dpa )- Everton consolidated fourth position in the English Premier League - the last of the Champions League spots - as they squeezed out a 1-0 win over Reading on Saturday.

Phil Jagielka scored the only goal of the game at Goodison on 62 minutes to lift them to 47 points, three more than Aston Villa, who leapfrogged Liverpool into fifth with a 4-1 win over Newcastle United.

The result dropped Reading into the bottom three after their seventh straight defeat, with Birmingham City going above them after a 1-1 draw at West Ham United.

John Carew scored a hat-trick as Villa came from behind to beat Newcastle at Villa Park.

Things had looked good for Newcastle when Michael Owen put them ahead on four minutes, heading James Milner's cross in off the hand of Gareth Barry.

Newcastle held their advantage to half-time but three minutes into the second half, Villa were level, thanks to a huge slice of luck as Wilfred Bouma's shot deflected off Habib Beye and wrong-footed Shay Given in the Newcastle goal.

Carew then headed Villa in front three minutes later and after Given had to go off with an injury, the Norway striker made it 3-1 on 72 minutes after some hopeless defending from Newcastle.

Stephen Carr capped the afternoon for Newcastle by handling the ball on 90 minutes and Barry, the usual Villa penalty-taker, allowed Carew to take it to seal his hat-trick.

"We had more drive and determination in the second half," Villa manager Martin O'Neill said.

"John Carew is a real handful and a super player and was outstanding. I have got more confidence in the players than they have in themselves but it is getting there with time."

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan rued his side's second-half display.

"We played very well early on for a team that has not been having results go for us," Keegan said.

"Sadly we never really got going after the break. Their first goal was a hammer blow and our goalkeeper got injured at the same time and when they got their second we had a mountain to climb."

Freddie Ljungberg put West Ham ahead early on, but a penalty from James McFadden helped Birmingham snatch a point.

Middlesbrough and Sunderland moved away from the relegation zone with respective home victories over Fulham and Wigan Athletic.

Jeremie Aliadiere's 11th-minute goal was enough to give Middlesbrough a 1-0 win over Fulham and lift them to 29 points, leaving Fulham still stuck second-from-bottom.

Dickson Etuhu put Sunderland ahead just before half-time and after surviving a spate of Wigan attacks, they doubled their lead when Daryl Murphy curled in a superb goal from about 25 yards.

The win - their fourth straight home victory - lifted Sunderland to 26 points, four above the bottom three.

Bottom side Derby County were beaten 3-0 at home by improving Tottenham Hotspur, while Lassana Diarra scored the goal as Portsmouth won 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers.

Leaders Arsenal take on Blackburn on Monday, while Sunday's games see second-placed Manchester United facing neighbours Manchester City and third-placed Chelsea hosting Liverpool.

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