ORLANDO SA struck a brilliant hat-trick as rampant Reading racked up their biggest win for 18 months, sweeping aside Ipswich Town 5-1 at Madejski Stadium.
Despite drawing two home blanks already this season and not scoring at the Madejski since April, the first goal of the night did not take long in arriving as Sa headed in the opener after just seven minutes.
Freddie Sears equalised from close range soon after before Sa found the net again from the edge of the box.
Nick Blackman continued his fine form with a fierce strike just four minutes after the break before he teed up Sa to complete his hat-trick just past the hour mark to round off a fantastic night for Steve Clarke’s men.
Having lost just once all season, Clarke opted for just one change to the side which won at Brentford last time out as Vydra came in for his debut with Danny Williams dropping to the bench. Fellow new signings Lucas Piazon and Ola John were named among the substitutes.
Despite no home goals since April, there has been a sense of optimism amongst the Reading fans again following the late transfer business, and the good feel factor gathered pace after just seven minutes.
Fresh from his first goal of the season at Brentford last time out, Sa doubled his tally for the campaign after meeting Blackman’s teasing cross to head into the bottom corner.
But the advantage was quickly wiped out. Ryan Fraser showed some great footwork to wriggle away from challenges of Paul McShane and Chris Gunter before firing goalwards.
Jonathan Bond pulled off a decent stop but Sears was there to follow in at the back post and turn in the rebound.
But back came the hosts, retaking the lead three minutes later. After seeing out an Ipswich attack, Royals quickly turned into attacking mode with Vydra charging towards the halfway line and picking out Sa.
Vydra continued his run but a confident Sa went alone, dipping his shoulder before unleashing a low drive which found the far corner.
And that lead was extended soon after the break. The lively Blackman did well down the left to pick out Sa but the striker fluffed his lines to complete a treble. The ball spun up in the air but the Tractor Boys could not clear and it came back out to Blackman, who needed no further invitation to lash a venomous shot over Dean Gerken from a tight angle and into the roof of the net.
A rare foray forwards culminated in Brett Pitman seeing a header come back off the crossbar before Reading’s night got even better.
Again, brilliant work in the channel from Blackman, this time down the right, saw him dart to the byline before pulling back for Sa to tap in and complete a fine hat-trick.
With Piazon and John on for debuts, the night appeared to be complete, but Oliver Norwood had other ideas.
On the brink of qualification for Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland, Norwood quickly turned attention back to his club form, letting fly from 30 yards and pinging an astonishing effort into the top corner which left Gerken rooted to his spot.
A perfect way to cap a perfect night.
Clarke’s men are back in action on Tuesday night, hosting Derby County at Madejski Stadium.
Reading: Bond; Gunter, McShane, Ferdinand, Obita; Quinn, Tshibola, Norwood; Blackman (John 78), Sa (Robson-Kanu 82), Vydra (Piazon 76).
Subs not used: Al-Habsi, Hector, Williams, McCleary.
Goals: Sa x3 (7,14,63), Blackman (49), Norwood (87)
Ipswich Town: Gerken; Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen; Sears, Skuse, Douglas, Fraser (Maitland-Niles 66); McGoldrick, Pitman (Murphy 66).
Subs not used: Bialkowski, Parr, Coke, Malarczyk, Toure.
Goals: Sears (11)
Yellow cards: Chambers (32), Skuse (36), Fraser (40), Knudsen (90+2)
Referee: Roger East