George Puscas marked his return to Reading’s starting line-up with the only goal in their win against Blackburn Rovers.
The Romania striker was gifted time and space for a finish midway through the first half after Lucas Joao unselfishly picked him out.
It proved enough to end a run of three straight home defeats for Reading and helped consolidate their place in the top six.
Blackburn struggled to put the hosts under any concerted pressure and are now without a win in seven league games, having lost six of those.
Puscas was the only change for Reading from their win at Rotherham on Saturday and his impact was almost immediate.
He nearly marked his return to the side with a goal from his side’s first attack, but his powerful near-post header from Andy Yiadom’s cross was palmed over by Thomas Kaminski.
The former Inter Milan striker then went close with an audacious effort from the halfway line which nearly caught Kaminski off his line, but much to the Rovers goalkeeper’s relief, the ball landed on the roof of the net.
However, he was not to be denied when handed a gift of a chance as first Ovie Ejaria stole the ball from a hesitant Harvey Elliott inside his own half and fed top-scorer Joao, who squared for Puscas to slot home from 12 yards.
Blackburn tried to mount a response, but Veljko Paunovic’s side were largely untroubled at the back despite losing centre-back Michael Morrison through injury towards half-time.
Striker Adam Armstrong missed a couple of chances to draw them level in the second half, sending a half-volley narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area, and then again in stoppage-time when he failed to hit the target from a Barry Douglas cross.
Ben Brereton was also denied by a couple of saves in either half by Rafael, while skipper Darragh Lenihan should have done better when found unmarked with a header from six yards out.
Rovers stay 15th despite the defeat, but Tony Mowbray’s side now find themselves 13 points adrift of the play-off places, while Reading strengthened their grip on fifth and are six points behind the automatic promotion spots.
- 33Cabral Barbosa
- 4MorrisonSubstituted forHolmesat 33′minutes
- 30SemedoBooked at 17mins
- 7OliseSubstituted forPontes Estevesat 84′minutes
- 18Lucas JoãoSubstituted forMcIntyreat 69′minutes
- 2Pontes Esteves
- 1KaminskiBooked at 90mins
- 17BellBooked at 52minsSubstituted forDouglasat 84′minutes
- 29EvansBooked at 58minsSubstituted forDowningat 61′minutes
- 19TrybullSubstituted forBuckleyat 84′minutes
- 8RothwellSubstituted forDackat 61′minutes
- 16ElliottSubstituted forDolanat 69′minutes
Match ends, Reading 1, Blackburn Rovers 0.
Thomas Kaminski (Blackburn Rovers) is shown the yellow card.
Second Half ends, Reading 1, Blackburn Rovers 0.
Attempt missed. Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Barry Douglas with a cross.
Corner, Reading. Conceded by Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Foul by Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers).
Thomas Holmes (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Tyrhys Dolan (Blackburn Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Bradley Dack.
Foul by Tyrhys Dolan (Blackburn Rovers).
Ovie Ejaria (Reading) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Reading. Tomás Esteves replaces Michael Olise.
Substitution, Blackburn Rovers. Barry Douglas replaces Amari’i Bell.
Substitution, Blackburn Rovers. John Buckley replaces Tom Trybull.
Foul by Tom Trybull (Blackburn Rovers).
George Puscas (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Ryan Nyambe (Blackburn Rovers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt saved. Ben Brereton (Blackburn Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Taylor Harwood-Bellis with a headed pass.
Attempt missed. Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Stewart Downing with a cross following a set piece situation.
Ben Brereton (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Josh Laurent (Reading).