Writer: Chris Kitley
Date:Saturday December 22 2007
The Mad Stad
A late, late winner from Stephen Hunt gave Reading an important win at the Madejski Stadium.
The winning goal, although controversial, gave Reading a deserved win in a game they dominated for long patches.
Sunderland started brightly and veteran Andy Cole nearly spoilt the Royal's Christmas Party within the first five minutes.
Royals skipper Graeme Murty kept Cole onside following a through ball from ex-Manchester United colleague Dwight Yorke, but his shot was straight at the Reading 'keeper Marcus Hahnemann.
The Royals' keeper could only parry the ball straight back into Cole's path, but his touch was poor, allowing Hahnemann to pounce on the loose ball.
Despite Sunderland's bright start, Reading soon took control of the game and could have been three up by half time.
First Dave Kitson came close, as his curling effort from range was inches over the bar, before Craig Gordon made a superb save from a Steven Hunt header.
The Reading chances continued to come as Kevin Doyle dragged his shot wide after finding space in the penalty area.
The second half was more of the same from Reading as they continued to dominate.
With an hour played Hunt again came close to scoring, his long range effort had Gordon beaten this time, but was painfully denied by the post.
Reading finally found the net with twenty minutes to play. Ibrahima Sonko flicked on a great free kick by James Harper, for Ivar Ingimarsson to tap in his first goal of the season.
Reading continued to pressure the away side and should have doubled their lead, but again Doyle failed to hit the target.
Sunderland were given an unlikely lifeline with eight minutes to play, a challenge from Sonko brought down Kenwyne Jones for a Sunderland penaly.
Although replays suggested that there was no contact, Michael Chopra didn't care, and his cool finish from the spot brought the sides level.
The goal seemed to give Sunderland a boost and they could easily have won the game with just two minutes left. Jones out-muscled Ingimarsson to find himself one-on-one with Hahnemann, but his lack of composure allowed the American to make the save.
The miss was costly for Sunderland, as two minutes into injury time, Stephen Hunt finally got his goal. Substitute Shane Long did well to get a cross in, which Hunt met on the volley at the far post. Gordon got a hand to it with what looked like another great save, but the officials deemed the ball to have crossed the line.
Replays were inconclusive, but it was no less than Reading deserved from a game they dominated.
Reading move up to 12th place, seven points ahead of Sunderland who drop into the bottom three.
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Date:Saturday December 22 2007
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