Royals lose 3-0 at the RiversideMiddlesbrough 3 (Adomah 12, Leadbitter 37, 82 pen)
Ten man Reading were soundly beaten by two stunning first half strikes and a late penalty at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon.
Albert Adomah volleyed home Lukas Jutkiewicz's knockdown to open the scoring in only the 12th minute, before Grant Leadbitter thundered an unstoppable 25-yard drive high past a helpless Alex McCarthy and whistling into the top right corner for 2-0 before the break.
Reading's second half comeback was swiftly hindered by a red card for Kaspars Gorkss, picking up two yellow cards - the first was questionable for an aerial push, the second came as he tried to make up for a loose touch striding forward and instead Emmanuel Ledesma flung himself to the floor under the Latvian's lunge.
And although the Royals passed the ball well throughout a second half in which they only had ten men, Boro added a third from the spot when Ledesma was felled by Pearce and Leadbitter stroked home from the spot.
Yellow: Whitehead, Emnes
Yellow: Pearce, McAnuff
Att: 16,001 (295 away)
Five minutes in and Marvin Emnes got the first shot of the game away, a right-footed 25-yard strike that deflected harmlessly wide for a corner. From that cleared set piece, Emmanuel Ledesma swept a deep inswinging cross to the far post where Chris Gunter did well to hack clear only yards in front of his goalline.
At the other end, Danny Williams wriggled free and onto a neat one-two down the left, but before he could get a shot it or tee up a colleague, two sliding challenges had stopped him in his tracks near the byline.
But 12 minutes in and the deadlock was broken. A deep ball from Ledesma found Jutkiewicz at the far post and he cleverly nodded it down to Albert Adomah, in space just inside the Royals' box. A sweet first time volley skidded past McCarthy and into the bottom right corner for 1-0.
Moments later, a good run by Adomah almost returned the favour, Cummings coming across to ensure Jutkieqicz couldn't turn home the winger's low cross.
Alex McCarthy was then asked to leap to his left to save a Ledesma free kick and he couldn't hold onto it - but thankfully Varga could only find the side netting from a very tight angle and Reading survived a scare.
Then the Royals skipper got a golden chance to equalise. A cross into the box was nodded down by Pogrebnyak and McAnuff skipped in to collect it, dribbled it around the two remaining defenders but Shay Given got enough on his right-footed stab to scramble it away from danger.
The lively Ledesma meanwhile almost made it 2-0 with a powerful first time strike which whistled just over the Reading crossbar from range, and McCarthy had to twice brilliantly save thunderous strikes from Emnes as well as a downward header from Leadbitter on the half hour.
And Middlesbrough made it 2-0 with a stunning right-footed strike from 25 yards from Leadbitter with less then ten minutes remaining in the first half. It was a fantastically hit effort that raised the home fans to their feet and which McCarthy had no chance of saving.
Just before the break, a lovely move from the visitors began at the back and ended with a cross that fell to the feet of McAnuff on the left side of the Boro box. He tries to pass it inside to Gunter, who had continued his run forward, but a red leg beat the right-back to it and the hosts hacked it clear.
Emnes dragged an effort wide before the half time whistle could sound, after Aitor Karanka's side had again broken at pace to great effect. And Boro deserved their lead at the interval.
Reading began the second half much better, passing the ball well and keeping possession well. But with only seven minutes of the half played, Reading's hopes of a comeback took a telling blow.
Kaspars Gorkss, who had already picked up a yellow in the first half, strode forward but took a loose touch, and in lunging to regain possession Ledesma hurled himself to the ground having nipped in to nick it off the Latvian's toes. How much contact there was is questionable, but a second yellow came out of the referee's pocket and Reading were reduced to ten men.
It didn't deter Nigel Adkins' men who continued in the same vein and some neat passing allowed McCleary the opportunity to cross from the right and Given had to finger tip it away from Pogrebnyak's head.
The home fans' frustration grew as Reading's ten men bossed the second half possession-wise virtually from start to finish, but although Boro were struggling to get the ball back, they also remained quite comfortable in their lead as the Royals failed to break down a stubborn Boro back line.
And when Ledesma was brought down by Pearce inside the box with less than ten minutes to go, Leadbitter passed it home from the spotkick to add a little gloss to the hosts' scoreline and put to bed any thoughts of a late Royals surge.
Danny Williams forced Given into a great save with only five minutes left, drilling a superb effort from 25 yards that the vastly experienced keeper did well to turn over his crossbar.
McCarthy had to deny Curtis Main at the other end though as Boro sought a fourth, but the referee brought the game to an end and Reading ended 2013 with a disappointing defeat.