NELSON Oliveira was the hero in the mask for Reading FC on a night when Jose Gomes’ men climbed out of the bottom three.

But Royals’ boss insisted the 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers that extended their unbeaten run to four matches is only a small step towards Championship safety.

Oliveira, sporting a protective face mask, scored a cracking winner four minutes from time on his return from the horrific facial wounds he suffered against Aston Villa 12 days earlier.

It looked as though Reading would drop two vitals points when Amari’I Bell’s 82nd minute strike cancelled out John Swift’s clinical first-half opener.

But Reading’s never-say-dire attitude in the second-half was rewarded when Oliveira fired past David Raya from 18 yards to secure Reading’s second victory in eight games under Gomes.

Reading Chronicle:

Jose Gomes punches the air with delight after Reading's 2-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers.

Team spirit, Nelson Oliveira, luck, added pressure of beating Blackburn, moving in the right direction and injuries – here’s every word from the Reading boss.

Jose Gomes on tonight’s victory: “I’m happy for the three points and our position in the table, but we know it is only one step. We have a long road in front of us. It was an important step, but we must take a lot more steps before the end of the season. I’m happy but my feet are on the ground. I am not dreaming.”

On Nelson Oliveira’s match-winning return: “The three points were important for a lot of reasons; for the win and position in the table, it was the first time this season we have collected points from four games in a row and also for the courage Nelson showed.

“He asked to play in the previous match at Sheffield Wednesday but the doctor would not give him permission, he couldn’t go on the pitch after his difficult operation. His nose was broken in four places, but he insisted on playing this game tonight and it means he really wants to help the team.

“Everybody saw his face a few days ago, but in the short time he was on the pitch he was pushing the other guys and giving a strong motivation to them. Now we have three points in our pocket which is a result of the work they have been doing. The players really deserve it. We must sleep then tomorrow morning we will train to prepare for Saturday’s game against Sheffield United which will also be tough.”

On Nelson Oliveira facing Sheffield United this Saturday: “If he recovers properly and shows we can count on him he will play, of course.”

On Nelson’s Oliveira’s swift recovery: “When you feel a player full of motivation who works and trains and wants to play, you feel this energy, you must give him a chance. The way he played today was amazing, it gives courage to everybody.

Reading Chronicle:

Nelson Oliveira wore a protective face mask.

“In the changing room after the game we were together and the feeling was we got the three points for the work we are doing and the team spirit. It was a very important game, really tough. Like I say it was the first time we got something from the first four games in a row.

“Team spirit was very strong, even in the first half which was sloppy. We played badly but the spirit was very strong and Nelson helped increase this spirit.”

What Reading need to stay in the Championship: “To play like we have been playing. We have lost just one game in the last six so we need to keep this spirit.

“Sometimes if the opponent gives us space we will play well. If it’s not possible, we need to be intelligent and collect the maximum points we can. In the last six we lose one which is a good for the future.

“In the second half we played more under our process and created more goal situations. This is the way. Sometimes it is not possible because we are playing an opponent, but the way the players fought and moved and tried in the second half showed, especially to themselves, that it is possible to collect three points from each game if they play like that.”

On luck playing a part in the survival battle: “I really believe luck I always the result of hard work. If you are talking about one game, maybe luck can bring you a cup. But when you talk about a 46 game league you cannot talk about luck. You can talk about work, spirit and intelligence but not luck.”

On added pressure after Bolton won at Birmingham and Rotherham drew at Hull last night: “Maybe, but if the players felt more pressure it was a mistake because we cannot control what happens on other pitches, we can only control what we are doing, the way we are training and our actions during the game.

Reading Chronicle:

John Swift gives Reading a first-half lead.

“If we lose energy wondering what is happening in other stadiums, even direct opponents, we are losing energy on matters we cannot control. Our focus must be 100 per cent on those things we can control.”

On Reading’s improvement since he arrived mid-December: “This is a good point of view from the media side, but in the same way, we cannot lose energy thinking about what happened in the past. The past is the past, we cannot change it.

“What we have is a fantastic group of players with very good team spirit and with this we must take more steps like we did tonight.

“This is only one step so we must be realistic. We cannot think it is done because we are in the safe positions. It is not enough. We have a lot of games in front of us and we must keep our focus on the upcoming matches.”

Gomes confirmed Garath McCleary was left out of the squad for tactical reasons tonight, while also giving an injury update on Andy Rinomhota: “Andy was injured in the previous game, he twisted his ankle so we will see tomorrow how he is. McCleary was my option.”