Reading pull five points clear at top as Yakou Méïté double sinks Rotherham

Sport

Veljko Paunovic praised the “super important” qualities of his Reading team as they moved five points clear at the top of the Championship with a win over a Rotherham side who were the better side for much of the first half.

Reading poached a 41st-minute lead through Yakou Méïté and although Rotherham again threatened in the second period, Reading proved resilient and added late goals from Méïté and their top scorer, Lucas João.

“What we saw in our team was the consistency of getting the job done,” Paunovic said. “Doing your job for the team. You also have to be patient, have a strong mentality and not get frustrated if our game plan is not working. And don’t ever give up.

“All these things are super important and, when the moment comes, that’s what brings you your opportunity and the advantage to score, to change the game.”

Reading have won six of their seven league games, drawing the other, but Paunovic is not getting carried away. He also believes there is much more to come.

He said: “In the first half, we had difficulties. This was due to the fantastic preparation from our opponents and the spirit that they brought to the game.

“In the second half, the adjustments made and the commitment of everyone brought us to a different game in which we felt much better and more comfortable.

“We have not yet been at our best this season. We have not yet got to the form and the performances that we are looking for.

“But not because some things are going wrong. It’s the opposite, it’s just a case of that we’re going through a process. We are forging our identity.”

Rotherham have now gone six matches without a league win. Paul Warne returned to the touchline after a two-game absence as he self-isolated at home because of family members contracting Covid-19.

“We played really well, especially in the first half,” he said. “We must have about 70% possession. Virtually the first time that Reading went into our box – in the 41st minute – they took the lead. It was a very harsh lesson. And it was their first shot. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.

“We started off the better in the second half. I put two up front and we had a couple of chances but didn’t take them. We then went three up front and it was kitchen sink time.”

Warne said of his absence: “Two of my family members got it. One had it for 12 hours, one has had 10 or 11 days still suffering from fatigue and lack of smell and taste. The family are through it now. It’s all good.”