Hal Robson-Kanu scored twice as Reading left Craven Cottage with an unlikely 4-2 victory against Fulham on Saturday.
The 23-year-old gave the visiting side the lead with an early penalty before doubling the lead in the second half.
Fulham hit back through Bryan Ruiz but goals from Adam Le Fondre and Jem Karacan either side of the Costa Rican’s second extended the home side’s winless run to six games.
Fulham welcomed Jon-Arne Riise, Damien Duff and Player of the Year Sascha Riether back into the starting lineup but was still missing the suspended Steve Sidwell.
The big news for Reading, meanwhile, was the return of striker Pavel Pogrebnyak to his former hunting ground, while Alex McCarthy continued in goal.
The Reading stopper was called into action straight away as Ruiz found himself with the ball inside the six-yard area and sent a quick-fire effort at goal. McCarthy scrambled superbly and parried the Costa Rican’s effort.
But it was Reading which opened the scoring as Norwegian defender Riise – no stranger to a thumping clearance – attempted to send the ball away inside the area but caught Robson-Kanu with a high foot.
Referee Neil Swarbrick showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Robson-Kanu coolly tucked the ball home to Mark Schwarzer’s left.
Fulham’s response was that of a jaded team. Giorgos Karagounis embodied the team's early struggles and Martin Jol reeled him off after just half an hour.
His replacement, Hugo Rodallega, almost got the home side right back into the game with a fantastic turn and shot inside the area – but McCarthy was there once again, this time producing a reflex save that was so good it defied belief.
It was more of the same after the break as Karacan broke free inside the area and needed Schwarzer’s athletic reflexes to deny his poke towards goal.
Soon after, Pogrebnyak almost became the pantomime villain as a defensive mix-up allowed him to break through and almost double the Royals’ lead. The Russian was in an awkward position, however, and lost his footing just yards away from goal.
Reading did grab a second minutes later, though, and it was Robson-Kanu who clinically finished for a second time, rounding off a superb counterattack moments after the home fans were jeering Swarbrick’s decision to turn down a penalty for a foul on Dimitar Berbatov.
Fulham’s response, however, was to finally spark into life. A well-worked move ended up with Rodallega playing a sublime through ball to Ruiz and the Costa Rican turned and finished superbly to give his side hope.
When super-sub Le Fondre rounded Scwhwarzer and put Reading two goals clear shortly after, things were looking grim for the home side.
Ruiz, however, popped up a second time and his clinical finish made the scoreline 3-2 to set up a frantic finish.
Nigel Adkins’ men were having none of it, though, and Karacan ventured forward minutes later to add a fourth for the visiting side. A remarkable victory was complete.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Bryan Ruiz
- Adam Le Fondre
- Jem Karacan
- Pavel Pogrebnyak