NELSON Oliveira made a sensational return for Reading FC with a late winner against Blackburn Rovers to lift his side out of the bottom three.

The masked marksman struck a superb winner in the 86th minute to secure Royals second victory under Jose Gomes.

John Swift had given Reading the lead on 44 minutes only for Amari’I Bell to level eight minutes from time.

But Gomes’ men refused to settle for a point in their battle for survival and sealed a priceless win thanks to Oliveira’s brilliant strike.

No one summed up Reading’s fighting spirit on the night better than Oliveira himself.

The on-loan Norwich City striker had reconstructive surgery on his nose only 10 days ago after an alleged stamp by Tyrone Mings left him with horrific facial wounds.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading striker Nelson Oliveira scores the winning goal against Blackburn Rovers.

But after being give the all-clear by the medical department he was back in the starting line-up and fighting for the Royals cause.

They will, however, need to show plenty more guts and determination from here on.

Yes, the win lifted Reading out of the relegation zone, but their lead over Rotherham is only one point with 14 games left to play.

Nevertheless, Gomes and his players could enjoy the moment and the Portuguese boss took an age to leave the pitch as he applauded supporters and hugged his players long after the final whistle had blown.

Gomes made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Liam Kelly, Ovie Ejaria, Omar Richards and Nelson all returned, with Mo Barrow and Lewis Baker dropping to the bench and Andy Rinomhota and Garath McCleary missing out through injury.

After a minute’s applause in memory of England’s World Cup winning keeper Gordon Banks it was Blackburn who started the brighter.

They created two chances in the opening three minutes when Ritchie Smallwood’s shot was blocked and Charlie Mulgrew fired a free-kick over the top.

Then Kelly lost possession before Emiliano Martinez made a vital save to deny Adam Armstrong on 10 minutes on a three-on-two chances.

It was not the opening Gomes had been hoping for. But then, out of nothing, they almost scored against the run of play in the 21st minute.

Ejaria wriggled out of a tight situation and fed Oliveira who, sporting David Raya off his line, went for glory from 40 yards, only for the ball to fly narrowly over the bar.

Andy Yiadom also tried his luck from the corner of the box, but Raya had his near post covered.

At least it was better from the hosts as they halted Blackburn’s momentum and the sides began to cancel each other out.

But the visitors grew in confidence again and threatened seven minutes later when Craig Conway drove into the side netting before Mulgrew fired a tame free kick straight at Martinez.

Rovers pushed for an opening on the stroke of half time – only for Armstrong to waste two decent chances.

He sliced one ,iles over with his left foot from a good position in the box and then, when clean through on goal, took an early shot with brouogh another top save from Martinez.

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Midfielder John Swift fires Royals in front just before the half-time break.

They proved costly misses as Royals broke the deadlock barely a minute later in first-half stoppage time.

Yiadom showed determination down the right before finding Swift who guided a beautiful shot across Raya and into the opposite corner for a priceless lead.

Even so, Gomes was far from satisfied so he hooked Sone Aluko and sent on Yakou Meite at the interval.

The Frenchman was soon involved in the action with a powerful header from Swift’s corner that flew into Raya’s arms.

However, Rovers wasted a clear-cut chances soon after when Brereton controlled a shot from deep, only to blaze over when he should have hit it first time.

Yet Richards’ finishing was equally as poor at the other end as he screwed an effort into the stands.

Nevertheless, Reading were offering more as the spaces opened up, though Oliveira’s curler from the edge of the box failed to trouble Raya on the hour mark.

Rovers replied with substitute Bradley Dack heading over at the back post when under pressure from Liam Moore.

But Royals blew a gilt-edged chance to double their lead on 68 minutes.

Ejaria was the architect with the pass through to Meite, but the Frenchman dragged his effort wide with only Raya to beat.

There was a nervous moment at the other end when Dack appeared to throw himself to the ground in an effort to win a penalty which referee Stephen Martin brushed away.

Royals, though, refused to sit on their lead and Tyler Blackett’s long-ranger that deflected off Jack  Rodwell dipped just over the crossbar with 10 minutes to play.

Then from Swift’s corner, Meite headed wide from eight yards when he should have hit the target.

But Gomes’ men left themselves too open and conceded an equaliser barely 60 seconds earlier.

Rovers broke from deep, with Danny Graham finding Bell who took a touch before sliding the ball under Martine and into the corner from a tight angle.

It was a hammer blow for the Royals – but they regrouped and regained the lead four minutes later in spectacular style.

Swift’s raking pass turned defence into attack and Oliveira capitalised by smashing the ball past Raya from 18 yards for a 2-1 lead.

Hearts were in mouths in the closing stages when Rovers won a corner and a goalmouth scramble ensued – but somehow the ball stayed out of the Reading goal.

And Gomes’ men held their nerve during a nerve-shredding finish for a victory that lifts them out of the bottom three.

The only disappointment was only 11,271 spectators – the lowest league attendance of the season – turned up to watch.

And it doesn’t get any easier for Royals who travel to third-placed Sheffield United this Saturday on the back of Blades’ 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough tonight.

Reading FC: Martinez, Blackett, Moore, Miazga, Yiadom, Swift, Kelly (Baker 80), Richards, Aluko (Meite 46), Ejaria, Oliveira (Bodvarsson 90). Subs not used: Walker, Gunter, Harriott, Barrow. Booked: Ejaria 39.

Blackburn Rovers: Raya, Rodwell, Smallwood (Dack 56), Armstrong, Mulgrew ©, Bell, Brereton (Rothwell 68), Travis, Evans, Bennett, Conway (Graham 74). Subs not used: Leutwiler, Reed, Williams, Nyambe. Booked: Brereton 41.

Referee: Stephen Martin.

Attendance: 11,271 (Blackburn 635).