Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were on target as Manchester United won away to Reading.
Manchester United retained their position on top of the Barclays Premier League after goals from Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo earned them a 2-0 victory over plucky Reading.
United did not have it all their own way by any means and for a long time it appeared they would be denied by a combination of poor finishing, excellent goalkeeping and brave Reading defending.
But with 13 minutes remaining, Rooney latched onto Carlos Tevez’s through ball and directed his first-time shot past Marcus Hahnemann.
And as Reading pushed for the equaliser – James Harper’s low strike in the last minute went agonisingly wide – Ronaldo broke clear to wrap up the victory.
United arrived in Berkshire after hammering six past Newcastle United last weekend and were hungry for more right from the off.
Reading had problems containing Ronaldo, who was enjoying a free attacking role with Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick anchoring the midfield.
Within a minute Ronaldo had worked space on the edge of the Reading box with a trademark trick and his low shot whistled just past the post.
Reading twice worked promising wide positions before managing to penetrate the United box and Edwin Van der Sar was forced to rush off his line to dive at Leroy Lita’s feet.
The ball fell to Dave Kitson, whose shot was blocked by Nemanja Vidic, and in the ensuing scramble the Reading striker went down with Michael Carrick but United were given the free-kick.
Ronaldo ran at Nicky Shorey from half-way and rifled his drive inches over the bar before Hahnemann did well to turn Tevez’s shot behind for a corner.
Reading were missing key defenders Ibrahima Sonko, Andre Bikey and Michael Duberry and United were exploiting space at the back.
Rooney almost latched onto a long ball forward from Van der Sar inside the Reading box and then strayed just offside as Tevez’s pass opened up the Reading defence.
Van der Sar dealt comfortably with Harper’s cross-come-shot and then launched a quick counter-attack but Kalifa Cisse blocked Rooney’s fierce drive on the edge of the Reading box.
Reading refused to be cowed and continued to attack with equal vigour. Van der Sar could only get a weak punch on Stephen Hunt’s free-kick and Cisse’s low shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Hahnemann then produced an astonishing diving save from a Hargreaves free-kick which seemed destined to put United ahead until the American hurled himself across goal and tipped it wide.
Van der Sar raced out of his box but scuffed a clearance straight to Kitson, who struck a 40-yard shot first time only to be denied by the retreating Rio Ferdinand.
There was no drop in pace after the interval as Reading twice pressured Vidic into clearances and Bobby Convey almost picked out Lita inside the United box with a neat through ball.
Ryan Giggs had replaced Ji-Sung Park at half-time and virtually his first act was to swing in a dangerous corner which had Reading at sixes and sevens.
Hahnemann’s punch hit Kitson’s back and the ball was on its way in when Cisse made an acrobatic interception to hook it clear from under his own bar.
Hahnemann then dived bravely at Tevez’s feet to claim a dangerous low cross from Ronaldo, who had escaped down the right wing.
Reading then received two let-offs in as many minutes. Hahnemann’s poor goal-kick flew straight to Rooney but as the England striker charged goalwards the ball was caught under his feet and the immediate danger cleared.
United kept the pressure on but when Ferdinand picked out Ronaldo in the box, his first-time shot from just eight yards ballooned over the bar.
Hahnemann was at full stretch to deny Rooney and Hunt then threw himself in the path of a Giggs shot from the edge of the area.
Kitson tried his luck from 25 yards and then wrestled past Vidic to meet a long ball from Hahnemann but could not lift his shot over the advancing Van der Sar, who just managed to get a hand to it.
Finally, United made the breakthrough as Tevez picked out Rooney in the box and he flicked the ball into the far corner.
United had the chance to kill the game off but Carrick missed a late chance and Hahnemann blocked Ronaldo’s shot.
Harper then saw his shot fly wide and as Reading piled forward, Ronaldo was able to wrap up the win.