Matt Lowton's strike boosts Aston Villa
A world-class strike from Matthew Lowton helped Aston Villa to a much-needed 3-1 win over Stoke, pushing Reading closer to the Premier League trap-door after Nigel Adkins' side lost 2-0 to his former club Southampton.
Villa moved itself three points clear of the drop zone and 10 points clear of the bottom two with victory at the Britannia Stadium, but needed a moment of brilliance from Lowton after seeing Gabriel Agbonlahor's early goal canceled out 10 minutes from time.
Lowton drove into the box from the right wing and picked out Agbonlahor with a low cross, but the striker still had plenty to do in turning his man to finish from close range.
Stoke came to life after the introduction of Charlie Adam, and he set up fellow substitute Michael Kightly to get one back, but with the home fans starting to celebrate a point that would ease their own relegation worries, Lowton struck.
The full back chested down a high cross and then, with two defenders approaching, lashed a 25-yard shot between them and into the top corner of the net.
"I don't think you'll see a better goal in Europe, let alone Britain," Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert said. "The technique and the actual finish were just world class."
Christian Benteke then broke away to slot home a late third and cap a fine day for Villa, while defeat pulls Stoke closer to the scrap at the bottom. If Wigan beats QPR on Sunday, it would be just one point clear of the bottom three.
In the early kick-off, Reading started brightly, but after Adam Le Fondre missed a sitter, blazing over from close range, Jay Rodriguez continued his recent good form by bundling home a 34th minute opener.
Adkins wanted a foul as Rodriguez collided with goalkeeper Adam Federici, but only after getting the all-important touch.
Southampton then took control of the match and Adam Lallana wrapped up the points 18 minutes from time.
That result lifted Southampton seven points clear of trouble, while Reading is seven adrift of 18th-placed Wigan.
Norwich and Swansea shared the spoils from an incident-packed 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.
Michu had somewhat harshly had a 10th minute strike ruled out for a foul in the build-up before Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn was forced off with a hamstring injury, leading to a home debut off the bench for Lee Camp as first-choice John Ruddy is also injured.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.