Nottingham Forest 1-0 Reading: Hillal Soudani scores winner at City Ground
Hillal Soudani comes off the bench to see off Reading
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 11/08/18 7:40pm
Hillal Soudani helped Nottingham Forest break Reading's resolve and secure Aitor Karanka's first Championship win of the season with a narrow 1-0 success.
The Algeria forward, signed from Dinamo Zagreb as one of 13 additions by the Reds amid a £22m spending spree this summer, came off the bench to fire the only goal of the game in the 68th minute, on an afternoon when Paul Clement's Royals had made life difficult for the home side for long spells.
It had looked as though Reading would hold out for at least a point, before Soudani swept a shot across goal and into the bottom corner, to secure three points.
It was Reading who should have taken the lead in the 11th minute. Mo Barrow cut open the Forest defence with an incisive pass and sent Yakou Meite through on goal. With Tendayi Darikwa doing enough to distract the Royals man, his shot lacked power, but it still required a big save from Costel Pantilimon, who cleared with his legs after making himself big.
Forest's best chance in the opening 20 minutes was a blocked shot from Lewis Grabban. Joe Lolley did come closer, when he cut in from the right and drove right across the box, before letting fly with a left-foot shot that was also well charged down by the Reading defence.
The Royals back four were standing tall, ensuring Vito Mannone had little work to do, with Danny Fox the next to see a shot blocked, long before it could trouble the keeper.
Forest finally found a gap in their defences when Ben Osborn's superb ball down the left sent Grabban through on goal, but Mannone was impressively quick off his line to make a big save at the striker's feet.
Another fine pass from Osborn was almost the catalyst for the opening goal, as he picked out the run of Gil Dias down the centre. The Portuguese controlled well on his chest, but failed to connect with a spectacular attempted volley.
Forest came close at the start of the second half as Tobias Figueiredo sent a header narrowly wide from a Lolley corner. But Meite responded by coming close with a header for Reading. And Jon Dadi Bodvarsson might have done better for the visitors when he flashed a shot wide, from 10 yards.
Sub Matty Cash almost made an instant impact after coming on - along with Soudani - in the 56th minute, but the Forest man guided his shot over the bar after being picked out by Osborn's driven cross.
It was the other sub, Soudani, who was to make the breakthrough. As Reading tried to clear the danger in their box, Cash tussled for the ball and it rebounded kindly for the Algerian, who swept a left-footed shot across goal and into the corner of the net to put the home side ahead in emphatic fashion.
When Grabban turned neatly in the box he might have given Forest some breathing room, but his shot was wide.
Aitor Karanka: "It was fresh legs that made a difference and it is important to know that everyone is important in this team. A player who is in the stand for one game can be on the pitch in the next game. They all need to understand that they will all have their chance.
"I was pleased because Matty [Cash] had lost his place this season but the first chance he had to show me how good he was, he did exactly that."
Paul Clement: "We stand here, two games in, feeling that we deserve more than we have got. But we have not got more. The reality is that we are an improving team. We are a better side than we were when I took over in the last eight games of the season. We are organised and we have good players who know their jobs.
"I can see improvement, so I am not worried. But myself and all the players want to turn these performances into results. We need to be coming away with at least a point from these games, if not all three."