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1 December 2012
• Madejski Stadium, Reading, Berkshire
Referee: M. Halsey
• Attendance: 24095
H. Robson-Kanu 8'
A. Le Fondre 19'
S. Morrison 23'
W. Rooney 16', 30'
R. van Persie 34'
Manchester United return to the Premier League summit after a thrilling 4-3 win over Reading at the Madjeski Stadium. The two sides exchanged seven goals in the first half, with Manchester United going into the break ahead. The Red Devils had plenty of chances to put the game to bed during a wasteful second half, but they ultimately held on to claim all three points on a day when City and Chelsea both dropped points.
FULL-TIME: Reading 3-4 Manchester United
90' + 2'
Another delivery hangs in the air from Shorey and Morrison again is up nice and early but cannot direct his header on target under considerable pressure from the United defence.
90' + 1'
Morrison has a great chance to test Lindegaard from a corner but the Reading defender headed into the ground allowing the United stopper to tip the effort over the bar.
Three minutes to be added on.
There is time for one last rally from the Royals to make Manchester United really earn this point in the dying moments. Despite their best efforts though, Reading simply can't make any leeway in the United half.
United doing their best to suck the life out of Reading by playing keep ball as we head into the final five minutes of the match.
The substitutes combine for Reading as Hunt heads a McCleary cross back across goal, but it's all too comfortable for United to clear.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side look content to let Reading have the ball in their own half. The visitors are playing with a lot more caution in this second half but they still have an air of vulnerability in defence.
Yellow CardJay Tabb
McAnuff cuts in from the left flank but his left-footed shot is hit with little power and straight at Lindegaard.
Reading are probing in and around the Manchester United penalty area but can't quite find the penetration to hurt the visitors.
A change of ball here at the Madjeski, apparently the one in play was deflated, a bit like this second period compared to the first.
Robin van Persie
Shorey's delivery is a good one but Manchester United are organised much better than they were in the first 45 minutes and manage to clear.
'The Pog' earns a free kick off of Johnny Evans on the right-side about 30 yards from goal.
Pavel Pogrebnyak's introduction has given the home fans a glimmer of hope as they try to find a way back into the game.
What a miss! Federici takes a disgustingly heavy touch from a back pass which allows the on rushing van Persie to nick the ball from his feet, but somehow the former Arsenal man manages to send his shot from a yard or so out wide of the post! This really is bizarre game of football.
Close! Jones and Young combine well down the left flank before the defender squares the ball for Van Persie to turn into the net. Unfortunately for the visitors, Jones' plays his pass just behind van Persie and the Dutchman fails to convert.
The offside flag saves Reading. Wayne Rooney has a chance to shoot at the back post but elect to pass to Fletcher, who then moves it along to Evra who was returning from an offside position. Wasteful from the visitors, something they could regret later on.
Nickey Shorey whips a dangerous ball into the box towards Roberts but Smalling does well to head clear. Roberts then gives Evans a slight nudge as the ball comes back into the area and Mike Halsey awards United the free kick.
Adam Le Fondre tests Lindegaard with an effort from range. The United stopper does well to get down and hold on to the Reading striker's shot.
Controversy! Reading appeal for a penalty but Mike Halsey waves away the protests. On reflection, it's a good decision, Evra's challenge on Adrian Mariappa is strong but fair.
Jason Roberts earns a corner off of Patrice Evra as Reading look to hit United on the counter.
Wayne Rooney delivers a free-kick from the left flank but fails to get the ball over the wall and wastes a good chance for the visitors.
Rooney picks out Smalling in the box but the defender can't bring the ball under control against pressure from Morrison. Manchester United are well on top now, keeping the ball with relative ease at the moment.
Fletcher makes a good run towards the penalty spot and is almost picked out by van Persie's cross from inside the box.
McAnuff has a go from the edge of the area, it's a decent strike from the Royals' skipper but it doesn't trouble Lindegaard.
Reading take the kick-off and we are underway for the second period.
Goal.com's Stephen Darwin reports from the Madjeski: "Wowee! It’s half-time at the Madejski and I’ve scarcely had chance to catch my breath as it’s been a quite crazy first half of football, and that’s putting it mildly. Reading had, at one stage, gone 3-2 up courtesy of some shoddy United defending from corners but, as the pendulum continued to swing one way and then the other, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie struck to put the visitors back in front. It’s been utterly disbelieving madness in Berkshire where if you blinked you’re certain to have missed a goal. Ready for the second 45, folks?!"
HALF-TIME: Reading 3-4 Manchester United
Three minutes to be added on at the end of the half.
Close! Robson-Kanu's effort from the edge of the area takes a deflection on it's way through to Lindegaard but the Dane reacts well to keep the ball out using his foot.
Controversy! Replay's show van Persie's effort which was cleared moments ago clearly crossed the whole of the goal line. United can count themselves unlucky not to be 5-3 up.
Off the line! Robin van Persie is denied from close range after Federici initially saved Chris Smalling's header. Brilliant save in the nick of time by the Reading defender.
With the introduction of Chris Smalling, the visitors look like they will on to the lead at the Madjeski at the third time of asking.
GoalRobin van Persie
GOAL! Van Persie puts Manchester United back in front with a clincal finish past Federici. The Dutchman was put through by a cheeky flick from Wayne Rooney and was played onside by some poor positioning from Nicky Shorey. Seven goals in the first 35 minutes!
Reading's wide players have given United the runaround in this opening half hour and Rafael has paid the price. Sir Alex Ferguson hauled off the Brazilian and brought on Chris Smalling in his place.
GOAL! All square once again! Ashley Young's crafty flick puts Evra in behind the Reading back line and the Frenchman cuts back from the byeline for Rooney to sweep home his second and United's third.
Manchester United look all over the place at the back, Lindegaard comes off his line and gets no where near the ball before Rafael gets turned inside out by Jobi McAnuff on the left flank.
GOAL! Well would you Adam and Eve it!? Reading are back in front and it's another corner from Nicky Shorey and this time Sean Morrison towers over the United defence to smash home a header from close range. Breathless stuff here!
Now Reading have the bit between their teeth! The Royals have United pegged back into their own box and are applying wave after wave of pressure.
GoalAdam Le Fondre
GOAL! MADNESS! It's 2-2! Boyhood United fan Adam Le Fondre gets the Royals back on terms. The Reading man rose highest to meet Shorey's corner and the Madjeski has suddenly sparked back into life.
Penalty GoalWayne Rooney
GOAL! Rooney converts spot kick emphatically to complete a turnaround inside three minutes. It was Jay Tabb's rash challenge on Johnny Evans that needlessly handed United the penalty. From delight to despair in a matter of minutes for the home fans.
PENALTY TO MANCHESTER UNITED!
GOAL! Instant reply from the Red Devils! Ashley Young threads a ball in behind Cummings for Anderson to run on to and then lash past Federici. The Brazilian is enjoying a renaissance and that powerful finish just illustrates his confidence at the moment.
Evra gets forward down the left-side and whips in an inviting ball into the box but none of his team-mates are there to meet it.
GOAL! Hal Robson-Kanu gives Reading the lead! Manchester United failed to deal with McAnuff's cross into the box, heading out only as far as Robson-Kanu, who reacted first to volley past Lindegaard from close range. Great start for the hosts!
Van Persie has a shot from inside the box but drags it wide of the post, decent chance for the Dutchman.
Ashley Young crosses from a deep position but gets too much on it and Federici can come out and catch it comfortably.
Referee awards an early free kick on the left flank for Reading, it's taken by Nicky Shorey but it's easily cleared by Manchester United in the end.
Manchester United take the kick-off and we are underway!
The teams have emerged from the tunnel and we are moments away from kick-off at the Madjeski.
As for the Royals, they welcome back Danny Guthrie from injury but the midfielder in only fit enough to make the bench. Adam Le Fondre and Jason Roberts spearhead the Reading attack.
Rio Ferdinand returns to the Manchester United starting line-up for the trip to Berkshire, with Ashley Young also returning to the side after sitting out midweek.
Manchester United: Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher; Young, Rooney, Van Persie. Subs: De Gea, Jones, Giggs, Smalling, Chicharito, Welbeck, Cleverley.
Reading: Federici; Cummings, Mariappa, Morrison, Shorey; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre, Roberts. Subs: Taylor, Pearce, Harte, Guthrie, McCleary, Hunt, Pogrebnyak.
Good evening ladies and gents! Welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play coverage of Reading vs Manchester United from the Madjeski Stadium LIVE!
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