The Royals reached the Third Round of the Carabao Cup with an extra-time victory over fellow Championship side Millwall at Madejski Stadium. Leandro Bacuna's thunderous opener had been cancelled out by Shane Ferguson and in extra time it took an exquisite finish from George Evans to restore Reading's lead before Sam Smith capped the night off with his first goal in blue and white hoops.
- Bacuna scores a screamer to open the scoring on his home debut
- Ferguson levels three minutes later with a deflected effort
- Reading make four substitutions for the first time ever in a competitive match
- Evans restores Royals lead in extra-time with sublime top corner finish
- Sam Smith scores his first Royals goal to secure victory with a late third.
Royals boss Jaap Stam made eight changes to his starting eleven, handing young Icelandic defender Axel Andresson his full professional debut and starting with Leandro Bacuna for the first time at Madejski Stadium. Stephen Quinn and Garath McCleary each made their first starts of the new campaign.
The tie began at a lively pace and Reading had total control. The first half chance came when Garath McCleary worked the space to cross with his left foot into the middle, where Bacuna swung a leg at the ball only for his volleyed effort to be thwarted by an intervening Millwall boot.
Byron Webster cynically pulled Popa back as the Romanian looked to scurry down the left side of Millwall's defence, but McCleary's drilled set piece was cleared by the right foot of Ryan Tunnicliffe inside the six yard box.
Some incisive passing between Evans, McCleary and Smith saw the former fire a snap shot high over the bar from the edge of the area as the hosts continued to press.
Midway through the half, Ilori played a nice throughball looking for Smith who had his ankles clipped by Cooper as he raced onto it, but no foul was given by referee Breakspear.
Quinn's corner soon after fell to Andresson beyond the far post who waited for the ball to drop before rifling a sweetly struck effort just over Tom King's crossbar.
And Reading's pressure finally paid off when Bacuna marked his first Madejski Stadium appearance with a stunning opener. He strode forward from midfield and unleashed an magnificent right-footed drive that whistled past the outstretched arms of King and inside the left upright from 25 yards out!
Millwall almost responded immediately with their first shot at goal; Butcher was played in and forced a good save from Anssi Jaakkola who was down well to his right.
But the Lions had their leveller moments later when Shane Ferguson collected a deep cross from the left and swept the ball into the back of the Royals net via a wicked deflection.
Popa won the ball in midfield and drilled goalwards to win a corner via a deflection, and McCleary's low cross was knocked behind for another Reading corner late in the first half. And Quinn's deep delivery was won by Andresson at the far post, but it was a Millwall leg that got to his downward header first to clear.
Half time | Reading 1-1 Millwall
The first action of the second half saw Chris Gunter come close! A swift exchange between Popa and Quinn diwn the left side of the Millwall area saw the ball teed up for the skipper who passed a short just wide and into the side netting from 15 yards out.
Tom Elliott looped a header harmlessly wide at the other end, before Tunnicliffe arrowed a fine effort over the bar from the edge of the box as Millwall sought the lead for the first time in the tie.
And they nearly did when Webster connected with a set piece that was floated into the box from the left, but the midfielder directed his header over the bar from close range.
Quinn forced a save from King with a low left-footed grass-cutter, but Barrow replaced him with 20 minutes remaining as Jaap Stam looked for a breakthrough.
And a delightful one-two between Barrow and Clement almost provided that breakthrough, the substitute driving a shot at goal only for a Millwall defender to produce a telling block.
Torrential rain began to fall and the Royals almost carved out the winner soon after the downpour - Popa and Barrow combining down the right in a move which ended with Popa sweeping a first time effort inches over the bar.
Popa then tested King again when he was given the ball in space as part of a swift counter attack and his right-footed effort was palmed wide by the Millwall keeper.
Ilori hammered high over the bar as we entered the final ten minutes of the ninety. And a sweeping crossfield ball from Bacuna picked out Popa bursting in behind the Lions' line - but King came out to thwart the Romanian as he tried to toe it around the onrushing keeper.
With 20 seconds left, Reading broke through Evans. He found Smith in space down the left and the Academy graduate drilled just over the bar from just inside the box in what was to be the last chance of the 90 minutes.
Full time | Reading 1-1 Millwall
Extra time began and Reading started on the frotn foot with Clement feeding Popa on the left and the winger skidding a low cross which was blocked behind for a corner.
The Royals utilised their fourth substitute of the evening (an extra one now being allowed in extra timeof cup competitions) as 16 year old Danny Loader entered the fray. But it was Evans who took aim but arrowed high over the bar from range.
Clement found Barrow who broke at pace, cut in onto his left foot but aimed a low shot wide of the left post. Rinomhota had a shot charged down and then Gunter took aim but skied a difficult effort.
Barrow thundered a well-struck effort into the body of the Millwall stopper and Reading were coming closer to scoring...and so it proved!
On the stroke of half-time in extra-time, Clement swept the ball wide to Popa who pulled the ball back into the feet of Evans. He took a touch to control it and nonchalantly picked his sport tot curl the ball into the top right corner for 2-1.
Millwall looked to recover once more but Jed Wallace's cross was glanced harmlessly wide with ten minutes remaining.
But the Royals were seeing the game out well, keeping possession to the sound of incessant 'We've got the ball' chanting from the East Stand.
And the tie was put to bed with a first goal for Sam Smith. Evans cleared the Royals lines with a direct ball from the edge of his own box and Smith ran powerfully onto it, beating the offside trap, taking a couple of touches to bring the ball into his stride, and then rifling home with a fine left-footed finish past King.
Extra time | Reading 3-1 Millwall
Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter (c), Ilori, Andresson (Blackett 90), Bacuna (Loader 95), Popa, Rinomhota, Quinn (Barrow 71), Evans, McCleary (Clement HT), Smith.
Subs: Legg, East, Barrett, Loader.
Goals: Bacuna 33, Evans 110, Smith 116
Millwall: King, Craig (c), Thompson, Cooper, Onyedinma, Ferguson (Wallace 96), Romeo, Butcher (O'Brien 85), Webster, Tunnicliffe (Williams 77), Elliott (Morison 66).
Subs: Archer, Meredith, Hutchinson.
Goals: Ferguson 36
Att: 7,148 (471 away)