Ten-man Nottingham Forest came from behind to beat Reading 3-1 at The City Ground this afternoon.
Matej Vydra had given the visitors the lead before Chris O’Grady levelled things up with his first goal in a Forest shirt, and then Nelson Oliveira put The Reds ahead with a stunning finish midway through the opening period.
And immediately after half-time the Portuguese international made the game safe with his second of the afternoon, following fine work by O’Grady.
Jack Hobbs was given his marching orders for two yellow cards on the hour mark, but Forest stayed strong at the back and preserved their lead.
Dougie Freedman made two changes to the side that lost at Brentford last weekend, with O’Grady and Ben Osborn returning to the team, replacing Liam Trotter and Jamie Ward. Former Red Chris Gunter started at right back for the Royals.
The game started slowly and Nick Blackman hit the first real shot of note on the nine minute mark, but it was straight down Dorus de Vries’ throat. Then it was Forest’s turn to test the opposition’s keeper.
Oliveira beat Paul McShane on the edge of the box with a neat touch and fed O’Grady, but the powerful forward’s effort was comfortable for Ali Al-Habsi.
The contest was beginning to liven up and after a quarter of an hour the Royals took the lead. Oliver Norwood hit a shot from the edge of the area that deflected into the path of Vydra. One-on-one with de Vries, the Czech forward couldn’t miss, and he slotted coolly past the Dutchman.
O’Grady nearly hit back for The Reds when he took down a pass from Pinillos and spun his man and burst towards the edge of the area, but he dragged his shot wide.
The 29-year-old wasn’t to be denied for a second time though.
Ryan Mendes sent over a wicked low cross which evaded the defence and O’Grady, who had pulled away from his man, hit home past Al-Habsi to score his first goal for the club.
Forest were flying now, and after Oliveira was crowded out having got on the end of a delightful David Vaughan through ball, Lansbury found O’Grady on the edge of the area who spun, beat his man, but saw his shot deflect wide for a corner.
The set piece came to nothing, and on the half hour mark Reading won a corner of their own. The delivery went all the way across the box and Mendes was able to take the ball away, beat his man, and hare into the Reading half.
He found Oliveira in acres of space on the left hand side and the Portuguese international set himself before firing a sublime finish into the top left-hand corner of the net. The Reds were in front, and in some style.
Jack Hobbs picked up the first booking of the game in the 41st minute after bringing down Vydra 35 yards out and Oliver Norwood produced a stunning save from de Vries with his curling effort from the resultant set piece, which looked destined for the top corner.
On the stroke of half-time Henri Lansbury was presented with a similar opportunity when Oliveira was brought down, but his free-kick was comfortably gathered by Al-Habsi.
That could have been the last action of the half, but deep into injury time at the end of the opening period Reading nearly drew level.
Danny Williams hit a stinging effort from outside the box that de Vries could only palm away but, thankfully for Forest, no Royals player was following up.
Neither manager made any changes at the break and soon after the restart, Forest extended their lead.
Ben Osborn won a throw on the left and took it quickly, sending it into the box for O’Grady. The forward burrowed his way to the byline and hooked over a fantastic left-footed cross which Oliveira tucked home on the volley from six yards out.
The Reds kept their foot on the gas and Dani Pinillos tried his luck from 35 yards, but the ball fizzed a yard wide, before Michael Hector picked up a booking for a rash challenge on O’Grady as Forest broke in the 54th minute.
Forest looked comfortable in defence, but Reading cut them open just past the hour mark. Some neat passing presented Vydra with the opportunity to double his account for the afternoon but Pinillos bravely blocked his effort.
The Reds should have made it 4-1 soon after, when Vaughan produced a lovely cross to find Mendes at the back post, but the winger couldn’t turn it home – and then Forest were reduced to ten men.
Reading counter attacked, Hobbs brought down Vydra on the edge of the area, and the referee showed the centre half his second yellow card of the afternoon.
Kelvin Wilson came on to replace Hobbs at the heart of the Forest defence, with Oliveira sacrificed for the defender. The Portuguese striker received a standing ovation as he left the pitch having scored his third and fourth goals for the club.
The Royals began to pile on the pressure as Forest dropped deeper, but the rejigged back four stood strong. Michael Mancienne was sent on for Ryan Mendes with 15 minutes left in a further effort to preserve The Reds’ lead, before Liam Trotter replaced O’Grady.
The last quarter of an hour passed without incident, and although there was seven minutes of injury time, Reading never seriously threatened de Vries’ goal.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Hobbs, Mills, Pinillos, Mendes (Mancienne, 75'), Lansbury (c), Vaughan, Osborn, Oliveira (Wilson, 65'), O'Grady (Trotter, 86')
Subs not used: Evtimov, Williams, Blackstock, Grant
Goals: O'Grady 20', Oliveira 31', 49'
Bookings: Hobbs 42', 64'
Sent off: Hobbs 64'
Al-Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, McShane (c) (Liburd, 84'), Hector, Norwood, Williams, Piazon (John, 69'), Blackman, Vydra, Sa (Hurtado, 69')
Subs not used: Bond, Obita, Ferdinand, Cooper,
Goal: Vydra 14',
Booking: Hector 53', Williams 85'
Referee: Keith Hill
Attendance: 18,128 (972 away)
The Shelton Family