Manchester United came out in top in a seven goal thriller against Reading at the Madejski Stadium as they retook their place at the top of the Premier League.
All the goals came in an astonishing first half that began with Reading taking the lead through Hal Robson-Kanu. United soon responded with strikes by Anderson and a Wayne Rooney penalty before Brian McDermott’s mean roused their supporters with quick fire strikes by Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison. United were not to be denied, though, and were 4-3in front at the break courtesy of a second goal from Rooney and a 10th Premier League goal of the season for Robin van Persie.
After Manchester City could only draw with Everton earlier in the day, United’s dramatic victory now sees them three points clear atop the Premier League.
There was a sign of the goalmouth action to follow as Reading took the lead in just the eighth minute. Jobi McAnuff put in a deep inswinging cross from the left and Jonny Evans made the costly decision to try and head the ball away rather than behind and could only reach the edge of the six yard box, where Robson-Kanu met the ball with a fierce first time strike past Anders Lindegaard.
It was a lead that lasted just five minutes, though, as United, as they have done so often this season, came roaring back. Anderson continued his recent good form as he ran onto meet a nicely weighted Ashley Young pass into the box down the left before striking a powerful first-time effort past Adam Federici at his near post.
Just three minutes later, United had the lead. With his back to goal following a corner, Evans was clumsily shoved to the ground from behind by midfielder Jay Tabb giving the referee the simplest of decisions to point to the spot. Rooney took the responsibility and calmly dispatched his penalty into the corner, sending Federici the wrong way.
At that point, those watching could have been forgiven for thinking that United would go on to claim a comfortable victory. But the home side had other ideas and within 10 minutes had retaken the initiative. First, Le Fondre was allowed to run off his marker and rise in space in the middle of the penalty area to head home Nicky Shorey’s corner.
It was another Shorey corner that led to the Royals taking a 3-2 advantage. This time United’s marking was slightly better, but Morrison was still able to jump powerfully over Evans and head through the grasp of Lindegaard.
In an incredible rollercoaster of an opening half there would yet another, ultimately decisive, momentum swing. On the 30minute mark, Young produced a delightful flick down the left to release Patrice Evra and the full back pulled the ball back first time to Rooney to side foot into the back of the net from 10 yards out.
It was another stylish goal that saw United score the winner in the 34th minute. Rooney was the man to produce the flick this time as he found Van Persie, being played just onside by Shorey, clean through on goal and the Dutchman never looked like faltering as he calmly slotted the ball past Federici.
The win could have been made more comfortable for United had Van Persie’s strike been correctly ruled a goal in the 40th minute as Adrian Mariappa cleared from behind the line.