READING FC were soundly beaten by Sheffield Wednesday - but still remain five points above the Championship relegation zone.

Royals came off second best at Hillsborough and have not won away from home since beating Burton in late January.

And there will be repercussions for today's defeat as Paul Clement's side finished with 10 men after Tyler Blackett saw red for lashing out at Owls substitute Atdhe Nuhiu 17 minutes from time.

Blackett - who became the fourth player to be sent off during Clement's six games in charge - will be hit with a three match ban, having only returned to the side today.

It was a foolish, off-the-ball act from the ex-Manchester United defender as Royals were already trailing 3-0 to Jos Luhukay's hosts after Fernando Forestieri scored in each half with George Boyd netting in between.

It was a hugely disappointing performance from the visitors given the stakes were so high.

They rolled over too easily against a Wednesday side with apparently nothing left to play for in mid-table comfort.

Yet they dodged an even worse scenario as Barnsley's defeat at Leeds United means the five-point gap remains as it was, but with one fewer match to play.

It was about the only consolation for Royals on a day that further hammered home the size of the rebuilding job Clement is facing.

Royals' boss made two changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Sunderland.

Joey van den Berg and Blackett both returned with Dave Edwards and Omar Richards dropping to the bench.

Joseph Mendes had travelled with the team after a seven-month injury absence, but was not named in the matchday squad.

Clement warned Owls could be a dangerous animal with only pride to play for, and the hosts threatened in the third minute when Forestieri missed the target from 18 yards after Liam Moore's mistake had handed them a corner.

But the fast start soon petered out as both sides struggled to produce their best football.

There was some neat inter-play between Mo Barrow and Van den Berg, but the home side recovered to snuff out the danger.

It took until midway through the first half for either side to register another meaningful effort with former Reading target Jordan Rhodes going close for the Owls.

Boyd collected Forestieri's pass before finding Rhodes with a perfect, left-wing cross, only for the Sheffield striker to head wide from a great position.

Reading responded as Sone Aluko saw his shot blocked before Clement's men blew a clear-cut chance to take the lead in the 31st minute.

Bodvarsson beat Owls keeper Cameron Dawson to the ball, but the Icelandic international went for power and smacked his shot against Frederico Venancio on the line instead of placing it in the corner.

To compound Reading's frustration, the hosts took the lead four minutes later.

The Owls striker had fired a free-kick well over the bar a few moments earlier.

But when Daniel Pudul's cross reached him in the box, he hit a powerful shot that deflected past a stranded Mannone.

Mannone, though, had to be alert to save Adam Reach's half volley five minutes before the break.

The visitors regrouped and started the second half on the front foot with Chris Gunter and Bodvarsson asking question of the Owls defence.

But they switched off soon after and shipped a second within seven minutes of the restart.

Forestieri kept the ball in play and found Reach who glided past Van den Berg before laying the ball on a plate for Boyd to convert from six yards out.

Clement made a change six minutes later and threw on Yann Kermorgant for the flagging Van den Berg.

It gave Royals a lift and they threatened to pull one back on the hour when Bodvarsson headed wide from Gunter's cross after Forestieri had coughed up possession.

Then Barrow danced his was into the Owls area only to see his tempting cross flash across the face of goal when it was begging for a touch.

A five-minute break in play for an nasty injury to Jack Hunt took the wind out of Reading's sails.

When play restarted it was Wednesday who took control, with Barry Bannan's volley testing Mannone before substitute Lucas Joao blazed over from a good position.

Bodvarsson did smack an effort over the Owls bar inbetween, but Reading conceded a killer third in the 73rd minute.

Liam Kelly fluffed his lines before Forestieri went on a rampaging run past two players and fired a shot that squirmed through Mannone's hands and into the net.

Then, just when Clement thought it couldn't get worse, Blackett saw red for violent conduct for lashing out at Nuhiu just three minutes later.

It also forced Clement to take off a striker and throw on another defender in Omar Richards.

Mannone was called into action again soon after to deny Forestieri a hat-trick goal.

Reading nearly pulled one back two minutes from time when Kermorgant missed the target with a stooping header from a fine delivery by substitute Pelle Clement.

John Swift also went close with a shot from the left after good work fromn Richards in the build up.

But the damage had been done long before on another miserable day for the Royals.

The only silver lining was that Barnsley in 22nd place lost 2-1 at Leeds United, meaning Reading remain five points above the Tykes who have one game in hand, a trip to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.

That gap should be enough to keep Reading up, with mid-table and managerless Ipswich Town the visitors in the last game at Madejski Stadium next weekend.

Royals simply cannot afford to lose that game or - if results go against them - they may need a result at Cardiff City on the final day to stay up.

And nobody is more desperate to avoid that scenario than Clement.

Sheff Wed: Dawson, Hunt (Nuhiu 68), Venancio (Kirby 78), Lees, Pudil, Boyd, Pelupessy, Bannan, Reach, Forestieri, Rhodes (Joao 68). Subs not used: Wildsmith, Jones, Matias, Nielsen.

Reading: Mannone, Gunter (c), Blackett, Moore, Ilori, Van den Berg (Kermorgant 58), Swift, Kelly, Aluko (Clement 83), Barrow, Bodvarsson (Richards 80). Subs not used: Jaakkola, Edwards, Martin, Rinomhota, Richards. Re card: Blackett 76.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson.

Attendance: 24,373.