Aston Villa 1-3 Reading: Joseph Mendes brace secures Royals crucial victory
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 15/04/17 6:47pm
Reading moved a giant step closer to securing their place in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs with a convincing 3-1 win away at Aston Villa.
Joseph Mendes opened the scoring with a well-placed finish before James Chester levelled the scores with a close-range header.
Mendes grabbed his second of the game immediately after the restart before Lewis Grabban sealed the result with a penalty midway through the second half.
Villa started the match on the front foot but fell behind after just six minutes when Mendes, starting in place of top scorer Yann Kermorgant, fired a low drive past Sam Johnstone in what was the away team's first real attack of the game.
Steve Bruce would have wanted to see a swift response from his side and he got it - James Chester drawing the home side level just seven minutes later with a well-directed header from a corner.
The match, which had started at a frenetic pace, showed no signs of slowing down as the half progressed and Mendes was guilty of wasting a glorious opportunity to double his tally on the half-hour mark.
After finding himself completely unmarked in the box, the French striker was only able to curl his tame effort over the bar under pressure from the onrushing Johnstone.
Grabban then forced the on loan Manchester United goalkeeper into another save as the visitors ended the half the stronger of the two sides.
Reading carried that momentum into the second half and retook the lead just seconds after the interval when Mendes stabbed home from close range following good work from Grabban on the right.
And it was Grabban who rounded off the scoring midway through the second half - calmly converting a second-half penalty after Liam Kelly was brought down in the box by Leandro Bacuna.
Reading overtake Leeds into fourth place in the Championship table and are now six points clear of seventh-place Fulham with only four games remaining in the regular season.