A stoppage-time penalty save by Vito Mannone ensured that Reading went home from Elland Road with all three points on Saturday – the stopper felt that the team deserved nothing less from their Leeds trip.
Those moments between the awarding of the penalty and the spot-kick being taken are wracked with nerves. But our Italian custodian explained just what was going through his mind in those final few seconds…
“From the way we played… I don’t want to sound too crazy, but I thought I was going to save it!” Mannone reflected after the match.
“We deserved the three points. We played well and the team has been unlucky lately in conceding goals in the last five or ten minutes… so I thought ‘this is the chance’ and it was an opportunity to step up and do a job for the team.
“That’s what went through my mind – and thankfully the result went well!
“It’s horrible as soon as you concede it – I didn’t think it was a penalty anyway, but it was given so I had to stand up and do my job for the team. The team had been exceptional.
“We really needed the three points and we needed to do it in a stadium like this against a team like Leeds. And we did it. I was happy to play my part and to help the team get the three points.
“We wanted to be nice and compact in a stadium like this – Leeds have an energetic team and I thought we frustrated them for most of the game. When we had the ball we played well and created chances. If we had taken the chances we could have been two or three up, but their goalkeeper made some good saves.
“In general, we didn’t deserve to come out with just one point. Thankfully we stood up until the end and kept working together."
It was a morale-boosting win – but only three points and no more. Vito knows full well that these performances are needed week after week to make for a successful season and to keep the spirits high.
“As I said before the game, that’s what we need to do from today and in the future,” he continued. “This team is a good group with good potential, and if we stay united and we work hard, no team will have an easy game.
“It is a massive confidence boost – I believe the team needs to realise where the standards are. We showed that we can play, we can defend, we can be compact. We can work together and for one another and play our football… if we do, most teams will find it difficult.”