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Match Reports

Pre-season | Beşiktaş 2-2 Reading

Royals steal late draw in Graz

17 July 2018

A lively, competitive and well-contested pre-season fixture ended in a 2-2 draw against Beşiktaş for the Royals in Graz... and that was thanks to Marc McNulty's first Royals goal with the game's last action.

Level at the break and certainly holding their own, Reading eventually succumbed to second-half goals by Ryan Babel and Oğuzhan Özyakup.

Sam Smith offered a reply in the final 10 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.

And with the final move of the game, McNulty slid in for the equaliser - his first goal in Reading colours - to claim a dramatic 2-2 draw!

It was always going to be a tough test for the Royals – their Turkish opponents boasted some players of notable quality, including Jeremain Lens, Babel, Gary Medel and Adriano.

Indeed, it was Dutchman Lens who registered the first effort of the game – taking aim from outside the area, he bent a shot towards the bottom corner which goalkeeper Vito Mannone tipped around the post.

The Royals were holding their own in possession but couldn’t quite find ways of creating clear opportunities.  But they were denying their opponents chances too; Liam Moore made a meaty block to cut out Tolgay Arslan’s stinging strike.

The theme of the first half was an even encounter in midfield, but a bit of craft from Beşiktaş was earning them opportunities in the Royals third – a neat lay-off by Oğuzhan Özyakup was met by a firm Babel effort, which needed batting to safety by Mannone.

And Cyle Larin wasted a gilt-edged chance when he was left all alone in the area; Mannone stood tall and denied the forward one-on-one, deflecting a point-blank effort against the woodwork.

Immediately at the other end Reading created their best chance of the game, with David Meyler at the heart of a neat, high-tempo move.  Ever dangerous on the break, a quick ball in from the left fell kindly for Yakou Meite to hit first time – tipped low around the post.

And Meite was involved again as the Royals steamed forward in search of the opener; he eventually slotted right for John Swift in support, but there was just enough time for a black-shorted leg to put in the block.

Arslan and Dorukhan Toköz each had efforts for the Black Eagles before the interval, but the first was blocked by skipper Paul McShane and the latter was struck wildly over the bar.

Half-time: Reading 0-0 Beşiktaş

Unchanged at the break, it was Reading who created the first opening but couldn't make it count.  A delightful spin in midfield by Swift allowed Barrow to hurtle down the left; his pass for Meite was just off target.

At the other end, Andy Yiadom made a critical interception to deny Özyakup an opportunity; he arrived just in time to challenge cleanly as the forward was almost slipped in cleanly.

Goalie Utku Yuvakuran was also forced into action by Sone Aluko, who had pounced on a loose clearance; the forward used the dummy runs to bend an effort, which the goalkeeper initially spilled, but he mopped up before Meite arrived to tap in.

But bang on the hour-mark, the Turkish outfit had the advantage.  It was a low cross that Babel craned to reach, and powered point-blank past Mannone for the opening goal.

The Royals continued to play gamely, and Marc McNulty was denied a leveller by a terrific save.  His quick instincts allowed him to pounce on a loose defensive touch in the area, but the goalkeeper spread himself to save well.

And, cruelly, moments later the ball was in the other net.  A quick combination in Reading's box allowed Özyakup to crack in from close range, doubling the score with 15 minutes remaining.

The Royals did salvage a late goal, to give hope of earning a draw - Smith capitalised on a big mistake in defence.  Caner Erkin's pass back to the goalkeeper deflected straight to the Royals sub, who stepped into space to slot into an empty net.

And in the 90th minute, McNulty grabbed the leveller - sliding in to Aluko's low cross to salvage a draw with the final action of the game!

Full-time: Beşiktaş 2-2 Reading

Beşiktaş: Utku, Gökhan Gönül, Medel, Fatih, Adriano, Dorukhan, Tolgay, Oğuzhan, Lens, Babel, Larin.
Subs: Zengin, Destanoglu, Uysak, Erkin, Agikgoz, Tore, Ozbuiz, Ginar, Pektemek.

Reading: Mannone, Yiadom (Richards 76), Gunter, (Blackett 66), McShane (Ilori 59), Moore, Meyler (Clement 59), Kelly (Rinomhota 84), Swift (McNulty), Aluko, Barrow, Meite (Smith 66).
Unused subs: Ward, Evans, O’Shea, Loader.

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