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Reading vs Blackburn Rovers. Sky Bet Championship.

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Reading 3

  • Y Kermorgant (14th minute, 29th minute)
  • G McCleary (78th minute)

Blackburn Rovers 1

  • E Bennett (77th minute)

Reading 3-1 Blackburn: Royals go third in Championship

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Reading and Blackburn

Reading strengthened their Championship play-off chances with a comfortable 3-1 victory over lowly Blackburn on Tuesday night.

Two headers from French striker Yann Kermorgant, taking his goal tally for the season to 13, gave Reading a 2-0 lead at half-time at the Madejski Stadium.

Relegation-threatened Blackburn rallied after the interval and Elliott Bennett gave them hope when making it 2-1 13 minutes from time. But Reading responded almost immediately when Garath McCleary drove home to settle the outcome.

Reading had won 10 of their 13 previous home matches and not lost in seven at the Madejski. Successive victories against play-off rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United had seen them climb into fourth place.

New Blackburn head coach Tony Mowbray had enjoyed a seven-match unbeaten run since he replaced Owen Coyle in February. But that ended in the 1-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday, Rovers' fifth game in a row without a win.

Matters began badly for Blackburn, with defender Charlie Mulgrew taken off on a stretcher in only the 10th minute due to injury, with Tommie Hoban replacing him.

It seemed to unnerve them, and within four minutes, they were behind. Tyler Blackett crossed from the left flank and Kermorgant, out-jumping Hoban, rose high at the far post to nod home. Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele got a hand to the ball, but the power carried it past him, Kermorgant scoring for the third successive game.

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Yann Kermorgant, Reading
Image: Yann Kermorgant scored for Reading

Blackburn replied when Bennett found space on the right wing, but, after cutting inside, he tried an ambitious long-range effort that sailed over the crossbar.

Reading soon regained control, with Roy Beerens and Adrian Popa shooting wildly off target. But they extended their lead in the 29th minute when John Swift crossed from the left and Kermorgant netted with another powerful header - this time at the near post - for his 13th goal of the campaign.

Sam Gallagher thought that he had reduced the deficit in first-half stoppage time when he nodded in Craig Conway's free-kick, but it was disallowed for offside.

Blackburn improved after the break, with Lucas Joao shooting wide and fellow substitute Marvin Emnes also going close. Gallagher went even closer when connecting from close range, but home keeper Ali Al Habsi tipped the ball onto a post and away to safety.

Liam Kelly narrowly missed with a well-struck 20-yard attempt for Reading, but Blackburn were dominating the exchanges.

In a frantic finish, Bennett reduced the gap when drilling in from 20 yards in the 77th minute. But Reading regained their two-goal advantage and secured victory one minute later when substitute McCleary scored with a similar shot from similar distance.

Reading boss Jaap Stam:

"Yann is always a threat in the box. He works very hard and is good on the ball. He's not the biggest of players, but his timing is excellent. All season we have been speaking about delivering crosses to him. Give him those, as we saw tonight, and he can finish them."

"I was happy with the three points and certain parts of the first half. To go 2-0 up in half-an-hour gives you a good feeling and you are always hoping that you can continue like that. But players can then sometimes feel a bit too comfortable and you get a bit sloppy. It gives the opposition the chance to go forward.

"It was a bit worrying when Blackburn scored, but McCleary got it back straight away and that made it a bit easier for us. We've been in the top six for most of the season. But we could still get knocked out of there if we kept losing games and others kept winning."

Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray:

"We didn't defend well enough to start off with. Two crosses, two headers from Kermorgant and that was it. We came with a game plan to play as much in their half as we could, but it was disappointing in the first half. In the second half we had some great chances in front of goal, but were very wasteful. Those chances have to go in, which would have made an interesting game of it.

"We've now got to win enough games to stay in the league and then, after that, we can hopefully build a team. We've got six games and I believe we've got a chance of winning three or four of them and getting enough points to secure our place in this division. Then we can build a team to be at the other end of the table next year."

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