READING FC suffered another Craven Cottage nightmare as their five-match winning streak came to a painful end.

Royals fans thought it couldn't get worse than last year's 4-2 humbling in west London which sparked a dramatic slide down the table.

But this was every bit as disappointing as Jaap Stam's men crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season.

The ramifications will also be felt for weeks to come following a Danny Williams red card for violent conduct, ruling the USA midfielder out for the next three games.

Questions will also be asked of Reading's defence who were run ragged by the pacy Cottagers.

Stam's men had only conceded once in their previous five games, but here they were torn apart time and time and again and were in many ways flattered by the scoreline.

They could have fallen behind well before the sun got in Chris Gunter's eyes as he headed into his own net with 15 minutes gone.

Royals' goal led a charmed life until Chris Martin put Fulham 2-0 up in the 49th minute before goals from Sone Aluko on 68 minutes and Stefan Johansen three minutes later left the hosts in dreamland.

Hundreds of Reading fans had headed home long before Martin added a fifth in the 90th minute to compound the misery and secure Fulham's third straight league win against the Royals.

Yes, Liam Moore was out through suspension, but Reading should not have missed the services of the talented centre-back this much.

Stam made one change from the side that beat Bristol City 2-1 at home a week earlier, with fit-again Joey van den Berg replacing Moore.

Fulham made two changes from the side that lost to Brighton as Ryan Fredericks and Tim Ream were recalled, while ex-Royals loanee Lucas Piazon had to settle for a place on the bench.

The Brazillian joined a packed Craven Cottage to observe a minute's silence for the Chapecoense football team, many of whom were among the 71 who lost their lives in the recent air disaster in Colombia.

Reading have been fast starters in recent weeks, but they were off the boil against the pumped-up Cottagers.

Their passing was sloppy, they were second best all over the pitch and their goal was immediately under threat.

The hosts went close in the sixth minute when Floyd Ayite's shot forced a decent save from Ali Al-Habsi after Stam's men had lost the ball in midfield.

Three minutes late Al-Habsi made an even better stop to keep the scores level, flying to his left to claw away Scott Malone's effort which had deflected off Gunter.

It was one-way traffic and another let-off followed when Ayite volleyed over from close range when he should have hit the target.

But Reading's luck ran out with 15 minutes on the clock.

Fulham were having plenty of joy down the flanks, and they worked their way past Jordan Obita before Fredricks whipped over a dangerous cross from the right.

All Gunter could do was head the ball past Al-Habsi from three yards out, the Welshman claiming he was blinded by the low, winter sun.

In truth, it was no more than Fulham deserved and they continued to push for a second.

It needed a crucial block by Tyler Blackett to deny Martin from inside the box. Then following a series of corners, Martin saw his header saved by the alert Al-Habsi.

Royals were a shadow of their themselves against a Fulham side who could have been out of sight.

They threatened in the 33rd minute, but Aluko blazed over on the angle when he should have passed to a team-mate.

The more the home side squandered their opportunities, the more hope it gave Royals.

Gradually, they began to play their way back into the game by maintaining better possession.

They even had a sniff at goal a minute before the break, though it was more in hope as van den Berg picked out Garath McCleary, who could only fire wide of the target from a long way out.

But things soon got worse after the interval when Fulham scored again four minutes into the second half.

Royals failed to deal with a routine long ball which Ayite flicked on to Martin. The former Derby man chested it down before racing towards goal unopposed and rifling the ball past Al-Habsi's right hand and into the far corner.

Stam's men were struggling to deal with Martin, who could have had a hat-trick within a few minutes only to head over from six yards then drag a free shot wide from 15 yards.

Royals also lost their discipline and their hopes went up in smoke in the 54th minute when Williams was red carded for kicking out at Johansen.

Yet they almost pulled one back in the 57th minute when Obita's volley deflected behind from a pin-point Gunter cross.

Then, after Stam had replaced Roy Beerens with Liam Kelly, they threatened again, but George Evans could only head straight at David Button from McCleary's corner.

Fulham regained control as Tom Cairney tested Al-Habsi with 65 minutes gone and then blazed wide a few minutes later.

But two goals in a three-minute blitz secured the points for the hosts.

Reading's defence was all at sea when Aluko charged into the area and slotted past Al-Habsi in the 68th minute.

Referee Oliver Langford appeared to rule it out for possible offside against Martin, then awarded the goal after consulting with his assistant.

Three minutes later it was four, as Paul McShane misjudged a cross and Johansen arrived in perfect time to poke the ball home.

It was damage limitation from there, with Royals firmly on the back foot and Fulham searching for a fifth.

It almost came 14 minutes from time when Martin's backpost header was expertly saved by Al-Habsi.

The hosts also saw a strong penalty claim turned down when Piazon went down under McShane's challenge.

But they did grab a fifth in the last minute when Martin's free-kick found its way past Al-Habsi.

The only crumb of comfort on a depressing day for the visitors is that Royals remain third in the table and three points ahead of Birmingham City, who lost 3-0 at home to Barnsley.

Just behind Birmingham on goal difference are Sheffield Wednesday, who beat Preston 2-1 and visit Madejski Stadium next Saturday (3pm ko).

Royals will need to play a whole lot better than this if they are to start another winning run against the Owls.

Fulham: Button, Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Malone, Johansen (Parker 84), McDonald, Aluko (Piazon 76), Cairney, Ayité (Kebano 87), Martin. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Smith, Madl, Sessegnon. Booked: Aluko 40.

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Obita, McShane (c), Blackett, Van den Berg, Evans, Williams, Beerens (Kelly 57), McCleary (Harriott 77), Samuel (Meite 66). Subs not used: S.Moore, Cooper, Mendes, Watson. Booked: McShane 2, Obita 50, van den Berg 57, Evans 88. Red card: Williams 54.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 18,217.