In-form Reading secured their fifth straight Sky Bet Championship win by overcoming Bristol City 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading went in front after 13 minutes when Garath McCleary netted the rebound after seeing his weak spot-kick saved by City goalkeeper Frank Fielding, and City were breached again six minutes later when a flowing Reading move ended with Roy Beerens slamming home a fine first-time drive.
Although City improved after the break, they had only an 87th-minute goal from captain Gary O'Neil to show for their efforts.
Reading went into the game on the back of four successive wins, in which they had scored nine goals and conceded none. nA run of only two defeats in 14 matches had seen Jaap Stam's side rise to third place in the table.
City had slipped of late are were without a win in three games, losing their past two against Brighton and Birmingham, with leading scorer Tammy Abraham having also gone off the boil.
After notched 11 goals in 14 outings at the start of the campaign, the on-loan Chelsea striker had scored only once in his past seven.
Reading opened the stronger and were soon on the attack, with Aden Flint having to be alert to block Dominic Samuel's close-range effort from a McCleary cross.
Reading's pressure paid off in the 13th minute, when they went ahead. Hordur Magnusson clumsily brought down Samuel in the area and Reading were awarded their ninth penalty of the season.
McCleary's tame effort was saved by Fielding but the Jamaica forward pounced to tuck in the rebound. It was the third spot-kick that McCleary has missed this term - but the second time that he had atoned by scoring on the follow-up.
City looked to respond immediately, with Flint turning nicely and firing a low drive narrowly wide. But Reading increased their lead in the 19th minute when McCleary released Chris Gunter on the right flank. Gunter's lobbed pass was met first time by Beerens, who drilled a fierce left-footed volley past the helpless Fielding.
The visitors then enjoyed their best spell, with home goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi saving well from Bobby Reid and Lee Tomlin shooting just over.
And they made a strong start to the second half, too, with Abraham storming through the home defence only to blaze his attempt over the crossbar.
As the game opened up, Jamie Paterson was off target for City with a 20-yard attempt and McCleary forced a fine stop from Fielding after he had cut in off the right wing.
O'Neil rifled in a shot three minutes from the end after a goalmouth scramble but Reading, having conceded for the first time in 447 minutes, still held on reasonably comfortably.
Reading manager Jaap Stam:
"I think we're a long way from [Barcelona and Manchester City]. We need to be realistic. We're not trying to copy a certain team, we've got our own style of play and that's what we're trying to do. I'm not going to sit in front of the television looking at their patterns. We need to be realistic with the players that we have.
"But we're trying to play and we've done it loads of times. But if people are talking about us like that, that's a good thing. The guys are getting appreciated for what they're doing on the pitch. Maybe people can say as well that Barcelona and Man City are trying to play like Reading."
Bristol City manager Lee Johnson:
"My lads are trying their socks off, they're working so hard. They're a young group full of endeavour, just like Reading.
"It was decent game, it was like two good boxers going for each other. Had the game finished four-all, you'd have probably been right that that was a fair result."