A last-minute goal from Hal Robson-Kanu saw Reading hold Fulham to a 3-3 draw in a thrilling Premier League clash at the Madejski Stadium.
The Wales forward, who came on as a late substitute, tapped home from close range after Fulham failed to clear a 90th-minute free-kick.
The visitors thought they had won the match through Dimitar Berbatov’s fine finish just two minutes earlier, which came just after Gareth McLeary levelled for the hosts.
Fantastic strikes from Mikele Leigertwood and Bryan Ruiz had seen the sides 1-1 going into the latter stages, with Chris Baird putting Fulham ahead with 13 minutes to go before the grandstand finish.
The result sees Fulham climb to fifth, although they could slip back to seventh depending on later results this weekend, while Reading stay in the bottom three.
It was very much a game of two halves, with little to write home about from the opening 45 minutes other than Leigertwood’s screamer into the top right on 26 minutes, and some poor misses from Fulham duo Damien Duff and Hugo Rodallega.
The visitors were dominating possession but lacked vibrancy, while Reading were relatively incisive on the break, ex-Fulham striker Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jason Roberts bustling up front and causing a nervous-looking Brede Hangeland problems.
The second half was similarly dreary until the introduction of Ruiz just before the hour mark, the Costa Rican replacing the ineffectual Rodallega and marking his entry with a spectacular dipping effort that cracked in off the bar.
That equaliser sparked Fulham into action as they dominated the next 25 minutes, passing rings around Reading and taking a deserved lead when Baird flicked home a Ruiz corner following an identical diagonal run to that which saw the Northern Ireland defender net a winner against Aston Villa.
But Baird picked up an ankle injury in scoring that goal, and Fulham missed his defensive abilities when they backed off Royals sub Robson-Kanu, whose low cross was mis-kicked by Roberts but slid home by McLeary, another entry from the bench.
That came with just five minutes remaining but the match was far from over.
Berbatov made it 3-2 in one of the better team goals you will see this season, opening his body and curling home from the left side of the area to round off a 10-pass move.
Fulham tend to look nervous defending late on away from home, and this was no exception. Sascha Riether, who otherwise had a decent game, gave away a needless free-kick on McLeary just outside the box as Reading attacked from the restart.
It was swung into the danger zone by Fulham old-boy Nicky Shorey, with Kaspars Gorkss getting the faintest of headed touches as Fulham failed to clear their lines, and Robson-Kanu was on hand to knock it home on the line.
With four minutes of injury time signalled Reading sensed an unlikely winner, and they almost got one as Mark Schwarzer made a fantastic double save from Robson-Kanu, while from the resultant corner Roberts agonisingly put just wide after a low shot from Adam Le Fondre ricocheted around the box.
But Fulham held on for the point, although a win would have put them in the top four. Promoted Reading, meanwhile, are still searching for their first win of the season.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bryan Ruiz – Fulham: Scored a fantastic goal immediately after his introduction, also nabbing an assist with the corner for Chris Baird’s goal. Shades Reading’s Hal Robson-Kanu by virtue of the quality of his strike.
READING: McCarthy 6, Cummings 6, Shorey 7, Gorkss 6, Mariappa 6, Leigertwood 7, Tabb 6, Kebe 7, McAnuff 6, Pogrebnyak 5, Roberts 5; Subs: McCleary 7, Robson-Kanu 8, Le Fondre 7
FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Riether 6, Hughes 6, Hangeland 5, Riise 6, Duff 6, Baird 7, Diarra 6, Richardson 5, Berbatov 7, Rodallega 5; Subs: Sidwell 7, Dejagah 6, Ruiz 8
- Sports & Recreation
- Chris Baird
- Bryan Ruiz