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Reading 3-3 Fulham Prem09 1213 Daily Mail

last updated Monday 29th October 2012, 12:28 PM

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Peter Higgs at Daily Mail

Reading (1) 3 Fulham (1) 3

Dimitar Berbatov defied the pain of a suspected cracked rib to score what he thought was Fulham's winner two minutes from time.

The former Manchester United striker played all the second half with a pain-killing injection but his courage was undermined when the Londoners allowed spirited Reading to snatch a point with seconds remaining in normal time.

Fulham, on top for most of the second half, had already given the home side - still seeking their first win in the League this season - one late equaliser and blundered again to leave it honours even in a pulsating finish.

'Berbatov showed a lot of character', said Fulham manager Martin Jol.

'He needed an injection at half-time and the injury was very painful.

'He could have come off but stayed on the pitch and it was good for him to score.

I thought it was the winner.'

Jol was less pleased with the way his team closed out the match, conceding a free-kick near the edge of the penalty area which allowed Nicky Shorey to deliver the cross from which Hal Robson-Kanu bundled in the last-gasp equaliser.

'We need to be cleverer not to give away free-kicks', said the Dutchman.

'They were eager to score and we allowed them to.'

Fulham appeared to have done enough to take all three points before a crazy finale gave the match an unexpectedly thrilling conclusion.

Reading, full of energy and determination, had the better of the first half-hour and took a deserved lead when Mikele Leigertwood drove in a spectacular 20-yard opener from Jobi McAnuff's pass.

But the signs of Fulham's greater class were starting to show before the interval and after Bryan Ruiz came on as substitute just before the hour, the Costa Rican took only three minutes to slam the equaliser past Alex McCarthy.

As Reading became more ragged, Fulham gained control and seemed to have scored the winner when Chris Baird met Ruiz's corner with a perfect near-post glancing header - only to injure himself on the advertising boards and have to exit the game.

Baird had scored a similar winner against Aston Villa last week but this time the fun was just beginning.

Garath McCleary levelled from fellow substitute Robson-Kanu's low cross five minutes from time, Fulham regained the lead with a splendidly controlled finish from Berbatov before Robson-Kanu bundled in Shorey's free-kick from the left in added time.

Reading manager Brian McDermott believed his side could even have won the match in the final seconds and is confident their first victory is not far away.

'We have to finish games off,' said McDermott.

'But these players will always keep going and our first victory of the season is not an issue.

We don't have to worry about it and just play our game.'

Reading: McCarthy, Cummings, Gorkss, Mariappa, Shorey, Pogrebnyak (Le Fondre 80),Tabb (McCleary 69), Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 78), McAnuff, Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Federici,Gunter,Pearce,Hunt.

Booked: Cummings.

Goals: Leigertwood 26,McCleary 85,Robson-Kanu 90.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff (Dejagah 67), Baird (Sidwell 80), Diarra, Richardson, Rodallega (Ruiz 58), Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Senderos, Petric, Karagounis.

Booked: Baird.

Goals: Ruiz 61,Baird 77,Berbatov 88.

Att: 24,093 .

Ref: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

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