Date: 2nd December 2012 at 12:26pm
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Reading were edged 4-3 by Manchester United in a thrilling encounter at the Madejski Stadium, with all seven goals coming in the first 35 minutes.

Reading manager Brian McDermott opted to name the same team that lost to Aston Villa on Tuesday night, meaning Adrian Mariappa and Shaun Cummings kept their places in the side. The Royals had started the past few games on the backfoot, but they started this encounter the much better side, with the visitors being surprisingly wasteful. This pressure soon told as Reading deservedly took the lead, when McAnuff’s cross fell kindly for Hal Robson-Kanu to superbly strike home from 15 yards.

Just as Reading had drawn breath, the former Champions returned with a goal on their own. Good link up play on the left between Ashley Young and Anderson allowed the Brazilian in at goal on the left, and his venomous left-footed strike was too much for Adam Federici at his near post. United were then given a gift by Reading to take the lead in the game, as Jay Tabb’s silly push on Jonny Evans in the box was punished by Mark Haley. Wayne Rooney took responsibility from 12 yards to score.

The game was then to take another fasinating twist on 19 minutes, as Reading found an equaliser out of nowhere. Shorey’s corner was attacked by Manchester United fan Adam Le Fondre in the centre of the goal, with no United player anywhere near him, allowing the striker to nod home past a despairing Lindegaard. The pendulum was once again to take a massive swing as Brian McDermott’s side managed to turn the match on its head and regain the lead against the Red Devils.

It was again a set piece that was United’s frailty, this time it was defender Sean Morrison to tower above the United defence to power his header home. The fun wasn’t over there, as United did what they do best, coming back with a goal of their own. Reading’s right was once again targeted by United and this time it was Evra who had the time and space to pull the ball back for Wayne Rooney to score his second from ten yards and to add a sixth goal to this incredible first half.

With half time ten minutes away, there was time for one more goal and it was the visitors who got it thanks to the rather quite Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman managed to break the Royals offside trap, with replays showing that Nicky Shorey played him on, showing great composure to slot home past a helpless Adam Federici. Reading tried to push for an equaliser before half time, but United could have added their fifth as Rooney had an effort blocked off the line, despite replays showing the ball had gone over.

——————–SECOND HALF————————-

The second period started in a similar vein to the first, with Reading doing most of the pushing. Captain Jobi McAnuff was first to try his luck at goal, but his long-range effort didn’t trouble Lindegaard in the United goal. It was proving to be a end-to-end half, with United keen to seal the game, while Brian McDermott’s side looking for that all-crucial equaliser. Federici then almost gifted Van Persie a goal, as the Australia attempted to fool the former Arsenal man in the area, but luckily for Federici, he somehow missed the open goal.

Jay Tabb hasn’t scored yet in his Reading career, but he was close to doing so in this encounter, as his 25-yard drive was just over the bar. Reading struggled to make any major advances in the opening stages, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side keeping the ball away from the home side. However, into injury time Lindegaard was made to work, as Morrison’s downward header for tipped over the Danish keeper. From the resulting corner, it was Morrison again who attacked the ball, but went harmlessly over the bar.

It was heartbreak in the end for Reading, who put in a superb performance against one of the best sides in the world. Defensively wasn’t the most convincing in the first half, but in the second period the four of them looked much more comfortable. We can take heart at the fact many will fail to score three against Man United this season, let alone all in one half. Onwards and upwards.

Reading: Federici, Cummings, Mariappa, Morrison, Shorey, Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Roberts
Subs: Taylor, Pearce, Harte, Guthrie, McCleary, Hunt, Pogrebnyak

Man Utd: Lindegaard, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Young, Rooney, Van Persie
Subs: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Cleverley, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck