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By ESPN Staff

Premier League: Relegation battle hots up

A close-range strike from Kevin Davies helped Bolton claim a 1-0 win over West Ham which boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Davies scored the decisive goal at the Reebok Stadium two minutes after the half-time interval to give Wanderers a valuable three points.

Matthew Taylor's inswinging corner from the right was met by Davies who stabbed the ball home from inside the six-yard box as Jonathan Spector impeded West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green.

The result means Gary Megson's side remain two points from safety after Birmingham were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Everton.

Joleon Lescott's header had give the Blues the lead in the 78th minute after a scramble inside the penalty area.

But Mauro Zarate came off the bench to curl a free-kick from the edge of the box past goalkeeper Tim Howard and into the top-left corner of the net.

Goals from Brian McBride and Erik Nevland gave Fulham's faint hopes of beating the drop a lift as they claimed a 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

The former United States international broke the deadlock for Roy Hodgson's side with a close-range finish in the 24th minute after latching on to Simon Davies' cross.

Davies was again the supplier in the second minute of injury-time after he picked out Nevland who swept the ball home from inside the box.

Darius Vassell scored three minutes from time to give Manchester City a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Elano had converted a 79th-minute penalty after Nyron Nosworthy had brought down Daniel Sturridge inside the box.

Dean Whitehead equalised in the 82nd minute for the Black Cats but Vassell latched on to a through-ball from Elano before applying a cool finish.

Aston Villa thrashed already-relegated Derby 6-0 at Pride Park to keep themselves in the hunt for a place in the UEFA Cup.

Ashley Young opened the scoring in the 25th minute when he delivered a high ball into the penalty area from a free-kick which was missed by Roy Carroll, and drifted into the top-right corner.

A minute later John Carew doubled Vila's advantage with a low strike from the edge of the 18-yard box which went through a crowded penalty area and past the unsighted Carroll.

Petrov then heaped more misery on Carroll in the 36th minute with an instinctive shot from about 50 yards after the Rams goalkeeper's poor kick had found the Bulgaria international.

Carroll parried a shot from Gabriel Agbonlahor in the 58th minute and Villa captain Gareth Barry was on hand to tap home the rebound.

Agbonlahor then got in on the act with a shot from outside the penalty area which flew into the bottom-left corner of the net in the 76th minute before Marlon Harewood rounded off the scoring five minutes from time.

Elsewhere Tottenham's clash with Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane finished 1-1.

Jonathan Grounds' own goal in the 27th minute had given Spurs the lead after he turned Aaron Lennon's ball across goal past Boro goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

But Gareth Southgate's side equalised in the 69th minute when Stewart Downing's shot from outside the penalty area deflected off Jermaine Jenas to wrong-foot Radek Cerny.