A FIRST-HALF brace from striker George Puscas on his home debut earned Reading their first Championship win of the season against Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.
Puscas broke the deadlock with a superb solo goal after 25 minutes and then added his second to turn in John Swift’s cross on his first Madejski appearance.
Swift then sealed the win in the 84th minute as he led a counter attack and fired the ball into the corner to cap off a superb display from the Royals.
The win sees Reading earn their first points of the new Championship season after two defeats in their opening two matches.
Reading started the brighter of the two sides as the new strike pairing of Lucas Joao and George Puscas linked well to hold the ball up for the Royals inside the Cardiff half.
The Royals had their first attempt at goal when John Swift played a pass down the line for Puscas who took a speculative effort from a narrow angle and watched his shot go well wide.
The game began to heat up as Neil Warnock’s side received their first caution of the game after former Reading man Leandro Bacuna put in a tough tackle on Omar Richards and didn’t escape punishment from the referee.
Puscas continued to threaten as Reading had more of the ball and looked potent in attack as defender Aden Flint put in a crucial block to prevent the Romanian from getting a shot away at goal.
The Royals deservedly took the lead with 25 minutes on the clock as Puscas marked his home debut with a remarkable goal. He drove down the right wing one-on-one against Flint before breezing past the defender into the box and then curled the ball spectacularly past Alex Smithies to break the deadlock.
Ovie Ejaria kept the Royals ticking in midfield with his superb footwork and creative spark constantly causing problems for Cardiff.
Ejaria went close to creating another goal from a short corner as his excellent skill allowed him to beat two defenders before his dangerous cross was diverted over the bar by Flint.
Puscas then claimed his brace as Reading doubled their lead five minutes before half-time. Swift sprinted down the line to meet a ball from Matt Miazga and drove the ball low into the box which was met first time by the Romanian striker who squeezed the ball in at the near post.
Clearly disgruntled from his sides first half display, visiting manager Warnock made two changes at the break having already made a first half change due to injury.
Cardiff searched for a way back into the game but struggled to break down the new look Reading defence with Liam Moore, Matt Miazga and Michael Morrison forming a trio of centre-backs.
Reading looked dangerous on the break as Joao and Swift combined again on the counter before Joao hit the bouncing ball well over the bar.
The away side had their first strong effort on goal with over an hour gone as Robert Glatzel unleashed a shot from distance which was pushed over the top of the bar by Rafael on his Championship debut.
Reading dealt with the aerial threat of Cardiff relatively comfortably despite a few nervy moments as the ball scrambled in the box following Cardiff’s persistent tactic of launching the ball in to the box from throw-ins.
With just over ten minutes remaining, Yakou Meite replaced Joao after the Portuguese striker had put in a hard-fought display to win over his new fans.
Rafael pulled off another crucial save as a deflected effort was watched well by the Brazilian keeper who then recovered to push the spilled shot out for a corner.
Puscas then missed a golden opportunity to mark his home debut with a hat-trick as Swift won the ball and set him on a free run at goal, but he hesitated before sponing the b99all wide of the target.
The three points were then put beyond doubt as Swift led a counter attack and clinically fired the ball into the corner past the helpless Smithies in the Cardiff net.
The Royals then had a chance to add a fourth from the penalty spot as Andy Yiadom was tripped in the box but Yakou Meite saw his spot kick well saved by Smithies as he dived to his left to prevent any further damage to the score.
The tests continue to come thick and fast for Jose Gomes team as they travel away to face West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday night before a trip to Huddersfield Town next Saturday.
Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Morrison, Miazga, Moore (c), Richards, Pele, Ejaria, Swift, Lucas Joao, Puscas.
Subs: Rinomhota, McIntyre, Boye, Meite, Virginia, Adam, Barrett
Cardiff City: Smithies, Bennett Morrison (c), Flint, Vaulks, Bacuna, Ralls, Glatzel, Pack, Mendez-Laing, Hoilett.
Subs: Day, Vassell, Nelson, Whyte, Murphy, Bogle, Paterson.
Goals: Puscas (25, 40), Swift 84)