Reading 2 (Long 58, Harte pen 64)
Reading battled hard to earn a seventh consecutive league win with a professional second half display enough to take three points away from Glanford Park.
Shane Long broke the deadlock just before the hour, touching home Jimmy Kebe's low near post cross for his 26th goal of the season for club and country.
Then five minutes later, the Royals doubled their advantage when Karacan's delightful ball through to Long saw the Irishman floored by a stray Scunthorpe leg and, with Long recovering from the heavy challenge, Ian Harte ruthlessly smashed home the spotkick.
Despite an impressive display from the hosts, it could have been more for Reading in the second half - Joe Murphy had to save well from Kebe in the dying stages.
But Reading's margin of victory was comfortable in the end - against a team who have beaten QPR, Swansea and Nottingham Forest at home this season.
Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Griffin, Harte, Mills (c), Khizanishvili; Karacan (Tabb 71), Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff; Long, Manset (Church 66).
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Robson-Kanu, Antonio, Hunt.
Yellow: Mills, Karacan, Church
Scunthorpe (4-4-2): Murphy, Nelson (c), Mirfin, Gordon, Togwell, O'Connor (Wright HT), Hughes, Nunez, Duffy (Miller 74), Dagnall, Garner.
Suns: Lillis, Godden, Collins, Nolan, Raynes.
Yellow: Dagnall, Nelson, Wright, Murhpy, Togwell.
Attendance: 4,458 (416 away)
Ref: A Woolmer
Starting XI team news
Brian McDermott made one change to his starting line-up, naming Matt Mills as his captain in place of Ivar Ingimarsson at the back. Noel Hunt was the only change to the Royals' bench - replacing Brian Howard as a substitute. Alan Knill named an unchanged side from the side that won 4-1 here at the weekend.
Scunthorpe began the better of the two sides, passing it around well in familiar conditions. Joe Garner lashed an early effort wide and Mark Duffy had an effort deflected wide by Matt Mills' right leg in an impressive opening quarter of an hour for the hosts.
At the other end, Matt Mills' excellent ball from the back picked out Shane Long's run, but he couldn't get it under control on the stretch and Nelson calmly cleared.
There was less calm in front of the Reading goal. Dagnall broke the Royals' offside trap to race clear down the right and his low strike fizzed dangerously across the box, McCarthy's frame and thankfully just wide of the bottom left corner.
The first save of the game came from the Iron's keeper, Joe Murphy needing to get down well to his right to turn a bobbling McAnuff effort wide.
As the half wore on, the game grew a little scrappy. But United continued to impress. Duffy forced a good save from McCarthy, who parried it to safety. Reading broke and Kebe won a free kick, but Harte's effort couldn't beat a lively Scunthorpe wall on this occasion.
As half-time neared, Reading came to life. Jem Karacan fed Manset inside him and the striker took a touch and stabbed a left-footed effort on goal, but it was deflected wide for a corner.
Then Leigertwood skidded a low cross into the box from the right, which Manset tried to delicately flick on target...but it dribbled across the six yard box and well wide of the left post. Karacan saw a late effort easily saved by Murphy, and the teams went in level at the break.
Scunthorpe came flying out of the traps after the interval. Togwell smashed a sweetly struck effort from 35 yards just wide and then Dagnall turned Griffin, delivered a low cross into the middle and Nunez slid in to hook a half-effort wide of the bottom right corner.
But the first save of the half came from Murphy - and it was quite some save. The united stopper hurled himself to the right to palm wide a Jimmy Kebe thunderbolt from 20 yards out.
And just before the hour, Reading broke the deadlock. Mikele Leigertwood did brilliantly to win the ball in midfield and Kebe raced full speed down the right. He crossed low into the near post and Long read it to a tee - arriving to touch it over the line and squeeze it inside the right upright.
And instantly Reading searched for a second. Mathieu Manset headed goalwards on the end of a deep cross from the right. But the striker's effort didn't trouble Murphy, who collected it on the bounce.
But moments later, Long created another. Slipped in by Karacan, Long raced onto the ball and, as he was about to shoot, his heels were clipped and Long tumbled to the ground. The referee pointed to the spot and with Long recovering from a heavy knock Ian Harte was given the ball...he made no mistake, smashing home an unstoppable spotkick inside the right post to make it 2-0.
The evening took something of a sour turn when Togwell's late challenge injured Jem Karacan, who was helped from the field by McAnuff and the Royals physio. Jay Tabb slotted into midfield in his place.
Reading took control. Jimmy Kebe was released by Long to go one on one with the goalkeeper, but Murphy forced the wily winger wide and the danger disappeared.
Then Long flicked a lovely header into McAnuff's path, but he turned onto his left foot and shot high over the crossbar to see another chance go begging.
The Royals could have had another with four minutes remaining. Church broke from inside his own half, slid a ball into Kebe's path, but from an impossible angle he could only drive low towards the near post where Murphy saved with his legs.