Report by David Miller –
TWO FANTASTIC goals from Pablo Hernandez inspired Leeds to a more than comfortable win at Madejski Stadium as they ended the night on top of the Championship.
The pick of the goals came in the 43rd minute where his fierce shot from 20 yards beat Emi Martinez and flew into the top corner.
This all came after Mateusz Klich gave the visitors the lead in the 14th minute as he beat the Reading goalkeeper from eight yards out.
Reading rallied after the restart, going close through Andy Yiadom, but the game was long gone.
Jose Gomes made two changes to his starting eleven after the dramatic 3-2 victory over Wigan on Saturday. Garath McCleary dropped to the bench whilst Ovie Ejaria missed out through injury. Academy graduates Danny Loader and debutant Ryan East started in their place.
It was a cagey opening 10 minutes to the game, but Reading had the better of the possession and looked positive going forward.
Andy Yiadom created the first chance of the game as his fancy flick allowed him to get in behind the Leeds defence. However, the angle was too tight for a shot which made the save more than comfortable for Kiko Casilla.
Just moments later the visitors took the lead. Luke Ayling got beyond Mo Barrow thanks to an unfortunate slip and his low cross found its way to an unmarked Klich who slotted the ball past Martinez.
The home side looked for an immediate response, a lofted pass from John Swift set Yakou Meite down the right hand side. He drilled a low cross into the box but it was claimed by Casilla.
In the 22nd minute Leeds doubled their advantage through Hernandez.
Ayling passed him the ball on the edge of the box and a smart turn allowed Hernandez to get the better of Liam Moore. Once in space the Spaniard unleashed a powerful shot which hit the inside of Martinez’s near post before crossing the line.
Leeds continued to search for more goals and this time it was Patrick Bamford who had a shot.
Jack Harrison picked up the ball inside the penalty area and showed good strength to keep hold of possession. Once he was able to get some space he found Bamford on the edge of the box. Fortunately for the Royals his left footed effort was a tame one and comfortable for Martinez.
On the stroke of half-time Hernandez got his second and Leeds’ third thanks to a fantastic goal.
He received the ball on right side of the edge of the penalty area in acres of space. His right footed shot flew across Martinez and rustled into the top right corner of the goal to round off a perfect half for the visitors.
The Royals had their first chance of the second half just after the hour. However, John Swift’s effort from 20 yards was a weak one and was saved by Casilla.
In the 65th minute Yiadom was denied a goal following a great save from Casilla.
Tyler Blackett’s cross from the left side was swung towards the back post and was met by an unmarked Yiadom. His header directed towards the far corner of the goal was met by a brilliant save from the Spanish goalkeeper. The Reading corner after the chance was easily cleared and came to nothing.
In the 70th minute there was another Reading debutant as 17-year old Michael Olise replaced Mo Barrow.
Some good skill from Callum Harriott allowed him to find some space down the left side of the Leeds half. His cross was pinpoint to Loader but he failed to make any clear contact with the ball as a good chance for the home side went begging.
Patrick Bamford had a fantastic chance to make it four for Leeds having gone one-on-one with Martinez. Fortunately for the home side his side footed shot went just wide of the post.
Hernandez wasted a great chance to grab his hat-trick just three minutes from time. Harrison’s shot was parried into the path of the Spaniard but he blazed well over the bar.
Defeat leaves Reading 19th and thankfully results around them went there way to stay three points clear of the relegation zone.
READING: Martinez; Yiadom, Miazga, Moore (c), Blackett; Baker, East (Harriott 63); Meite, Swift, Barrow (Olise 69); Loader (McCleary 81).
Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, McShane, O’Shea.
LEEDS: Casilla; Ayling (Dallas 56), Jansson, Cooper (c), Alioski; Phillips; Hernandez, Klich (Douglas 75), Roberts (Shackleton 69), Harrison; Bamford.
Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Gotts, Brown.
Goals: Klich (14), Hernandez x2 (22,43)
Yellow cards: Roberts (9), Ayling (29)
Referee: Gavin Ward
Attendance: 17,101 (inc. 2,071 away)