05302017

Reading into Championship play-off final with Fulham victory

Yann Kermorgant

Yann Kermorgant celebrates his second-half penalty to send Reading to Wembley

A Yann Kermorgant penalty was enough for Reading to edge out Fulham and reach the Championship play-off final.

The French forward fired the Royals into the Wembley final on Monday, 29 May for a shot at promotion to the Premier League just after half-time.

The only goal of the second leg came after Fulham centre-back Tomas Kalas was penalised for handball.

Fulham were denied a leveller by a string of excellent saves from Ali Al Habsi in the Reading goal.

Reading, who finished third in manager Jaap Stam’s first season in charge, will play either Huddersfield or Sheffield Wednesday in the final.

The two sides were level at 1-1 from Saturday’s first leg at Craven Cottage and an opening half an hour of great intensity saw both goalkeepers make fine saves to keep the scores tied.

Goalscorer Kermorgant was denied the opener by Marcus Bettinelli’s fine right-hand stop after his low shot on the turn.

It was a lapse in concentration from Fulham centre-back Kalas that was to prove the decisive moment.

Kermorgant chased a ball over the top into the Fulham area and put pressure on Kalas, who was penalised by referee Martin Atkinson as the ball rolled up his left arm.

The 35-year-old striker converted the spot kick low to Bettinelli’s right for his 19th goal of the Championship campaign.

Super Al Habsi saves Reading

Reading’s progression to the final against a free-flowing and attacking Fulham owed much to their player of the season Ali Al Habsi.

The Oman international, 35, was imperious throughout and kept his side in the game in the first half with a fine double save, first from a Tom Cairney curling free-kick and then Sone Aluko’s rebound.

Those quick reflexes came after he parried a Ryan Fredericks shot on to the base of the post.

After the break, and with his side leading, he then tipped over a Kevin McDonald strike after Aluko had cut Reading open with some sublime skill down the right wing.

He still had time to deny substitute Chris Martin what looked like a simple finish as he dived to smother the ball at the striker’s feet on the edge of the six-yard box.

Reading return to Wembley in a Championship play-off final for the first time since 2011, when they were beaten 4-2 by Swansea.

Fulham are yet to progress beyond he semi-finals of the format in the second flight.

Live Text

Match ends, Reading 1, Fulham 0.

Second Half ends, Reading 1, Fulham 0.

Attempt missed. Chris Martin (Fulham) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Stefan Johansen with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Garath McCleary.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Joey van den Berg.

Substitution, Reading. Joseph Mendes replaces Yann Kermorgant.

Attempt missed. Tom Cairney (Fulham) header from the right side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lucas Piazon with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Garath McCleary.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Garath McCleary.

Foul by Ryan Fredericks (Fulham).

George Evans (Reading) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Ali Al Habsi (Reading) because of an injury.

Foul by Chris Martin (Fulham).

Ali Al Habsi (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Chris Martin (Fulham) right footed shot from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Sone Aluko with a cross.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Ali Al Habsi.

Attempt saved. Kevin McDonald (Fulham) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Sone Aluko.

Substitution, Reading. Liam Kelly replaces John Swift.

Attempt blocked. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by John Swift.

Sone Aluko (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Joey van den Berg (Reading).

Substitution, Fulham. Chris Martin replaces Scott Malone.

Attempt missed. Sone Aluko (Fulham) left footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Stefan Johansen.

Attempt blocked. Tom Cairney (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lucas Piazon.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Garath McCleary.

Attempt missed. Yann Kermorgant (Reading) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right following a fast break.

Attempt saved. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Sone Aluko.

Substitution, Reading. Garath McCleary replaces Tyler Blackett.

Scott Malone (Fulham) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham).

Chris Gunter (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Fulham. Stefan Johansen tries a through ball, but Sone Aluko is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Stefan Johansen (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Tom Cairney.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Tiago Ilori.

Attempt blocked. Lucas Piazon (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Fredericks.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Liam Moore.

Stefan Johansen (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Joey van den Berg (Reading).

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