Reading 3 Manchester United 4: The 26 minutes of madness! Fergie's men march three points clear with rollercoaster victory
22:09 GMT, 1 December 2012
Wayne Rooney answered the goalscoring rallying cry of his manager as Manchester United twice came from behind to beat Reading and move three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson said he wanted to see his striker find the back of the net more often and Rooney responded with two strikes in a thrilling match at the Madejski Stadium, where all seven goals came in a 34-minute spell in the first half.
Hal Robson-Kanu gave Reading an early lead before United hit back with Anderson levelling and Rooney putting them ahead from the spot.
1-0: Reading's Hal Robson-Kanu (centre right) put the home side a goal up after eight minutes
1-1: Anderson equalised for Manchester United shortly afterwards
1-2: Wayne Rooney found the bottom corner with a penalty to give United the lead after Jonny Evans had been fouled
Reading: Federici, Shorey, Mariappa, Morrison, Cummings, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Tabb, Robson-Kanu (Hunt 83), Le Fondre, Roberts (Pogrebnyak 69)
Subs not used: Taylor, Pearce, Harte, Guthrie, McCleary
Scorers: Robson-Kanu 8, Le Fondre 19, Morrison 23
Manchester United: Lindegaard, Rafael (Smalling 31), Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Anderson (Jones 45), Carrick, Young, Fletcher, Rooney, Van Persie (Welbeck)
Subs not used: De Gea, Giggs, Cleverley, Hernandez
Scorers: Anderson 13, Rooney 16 (pen), 30, Van Persie 34
Referee: Mark Halsey
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Reading stunned the visitors with two
quick-fire goals to regain the lead as Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison
capitalised on lapses in United's defence to both score with close-range
But another effort from Rooney and a neat finish from Robin van Persie saw United take the spoils.
second half was less entertaining but both sides still created decent
chances on a day where neither team's defending was deserving of praise.
The home side went ahead in the
seventh minute after Jonny Evans could only head Jobi McAnuff's cross
into the path of Robson-Kanu, who volleyed past Anders Lindegaard.
United found themselves in the familiar position of chasing a game and soon showed their ruthlessness when coming from behind.
Anderson picked out Ashley Young wide
on the left and the Brazil international continued his run before Young
picked him out and he lashed United level.
Just nine minutes after falling behind the visitors were ahead after Jay Tabb bundled into the back of Evans.
Reading were level just three minutes
later as United fan Le Fondre wriggled free of Evans in the area to head
home a Nicky Shorey corner.
Brian McDermott's side have shown
great resolve this season and took advantage of further poor defending
from United to re-take the lead.
Moments after Rio Ferdinand had headed
away a cross ta the back post, Morrison beat Evans to a corner and
powered a close-range header past Lindegaard.
2-2: Adam Le Fondre (centre) scores a header to restore parity once again
3-2: Reading then took the lead with another header through Sean Morrison
3-3: Wayne Rooney levelled things again with a close-range finish from Patrice Evra's cut back
3-4: Ten minutes before half-time, Robin Van Persie raced through to score what proved to be the winner
With title rivals Manchester City
being held at home to Everton earlier in the day, United knew a win was
vital ahead of the Manchester derby next weekend and they were soon back
A sublime piece of skill from Young
freed Patrice Evra down the left and his low cross was tucked away by
Rooney to make it 3-3 with only half an hour gone.
Ferguson decided to make a tactical
substitution and replaced Rafael, who had been cautioned moments
earlier, with the more powerful Chris Smalling, although the Brazilian
did not take kindly to being hauled off.
Just four minutes after Rooney's effort United took the lead yet again.
Michael Carrick's through-ball was
deflected into the path of Van Persie by a clever Rooney touch and the
Dutchman slotted past Federici with his weaker right foot.
United were denied a fifth goal before
half-time as Van Persie pounced on a smart Federici save and directed
an effort goalwards. Adrian Mariappa was in the right place to clear but
it appeared the whole of the ball had crossed the line before the
former Watford man hacked it away.
Disallowed: Van Persie then had this clear goal chalked off
Facetime: Adam Federici keeps out Chris Smalling with his head
Aerial combat: Michael Carrick and Pavel Pogrebnyak challenge for the ball in the air
The second half started much calmer but it was the home side who were pressing forward.
Lindegaard fumbled a simple catch from
a Shorey corner before Halsey waved away Reading appeals for a penalty
after Evra won the ball in a challenge with Mariappa.
Van Persie wasted a good chance to put
United two clear when he shot wide after being picked out by Phil
Jones, although the ball into the ex-Arsenal striker was slightly behind
The 29-year-old missed an even better
opportunity moments later as he robbed the ball off a dallying Federici
but could not hit the empty net from a relatively tight angle.
McDermott introduced Pavel Pogrebnyak for the tiring Jason Roberts as his side went in search of an equaliser.
Smalling found himself in space on the
right flank with just three minutes left on the clock but he could only
blaze an uncontrolled effort into the United fans behind Federici's
Reading pushed on in stoppage time and
a Morrison header was tipped over by Lindegaard with the same player
heading wide from the resulting corner as United just held on.
Put a sock in it! Patrice Evra expresses his delight at the final whistle