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Premier League: Reading 2 Sunderland 1

Reading left it late once again to secure a 2-1 win over Sunderland and lift themselves clear of the English Premier League drop zone.

Two strikes from Jimmy Kebe either side of Craig Gardner’s penalty saw Brian McDermott’s side earn their fourth win in six Premier League games to continue a remarkable run of form and help them two points clear of 18th-placed Wigan.

Reading fans were in fine spirits given their team’s recent form and they were given more reason to cheer as the hosts took a seventh-minute lead at Madejski Stadium.

Jobi McAnuff was given too much space on the left and took full advantage, cutting a teasing ball back to the edge of the box where a lurking Kebe was on hand to deftly skip past the challenge of Jack Colback and smash his effort into the roof of the net.

The visitors’ first attempt on goal did not come until the 24th minute, when Alfred N’Diaye drove to the edge of the area and hit a low shot that was well saved by Adam Federici, who then got up and blocked Sebastian Larsson’s follow up.

Larsson wanted a penalty for Ian Harte’s challenge as he went for a loose ball and Sunderland earned a spot-kick minutes later.

Pavel Pogrebnyak lunged in with a wild challenge on John O’Shea after the ball was half cleared from a corner, giving referee Lee Mason no choice but to point to the spot.

Gardner stepped up and powered his penalty into the bottom corner, giving Federici no chance, despite the Australian diving the right way.

The Russian striker almost made amends for his moment of madness when he rose to meet Harte’s dangerous in-swinging free-kick on 40 minutes, but his header was well saved by Simon Mignolet at the near post.

Centre-back Adrian Mariappa came close to breaking the deadlock in the second half, rising to meet another dangerous Harte corner and planting a header onto the Sunderland crossbar.

Martin O’Neill responded by bringing on new signing Danny Graham to make his debut.

The striker was in the thick of it straight away, earning a corner with a blocked header before rising to meet the resultant set-piece and forcing Federici to tip the ball over the bar.

Just as the visitors looked to be posing an increased threat up front, Reading went down the other end and grabbed a trademark late goal, as Kebe met yet another Harte cross at the far post to head home with five minutes to go.

Sat 2 February, 2013
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