A smash-and-grab win for Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough left Reading without any points from their last three home games as a miserable run of form at the Madejski continued. 

The Teeside team ran out 2-0 winners after two goals in quick succession in the first half. 

These strikes came against the run of play, however, as Veljko Paunovic’s team dominated the opening stages of the game. 

The Royals couldn’t convert a number of good early chances, though, and were left rueing the missed opportunities as Neil Warnock’s men sat back and defended deep after taking the lead, stifling Reading’s creativity. 

The loss, which follows home defeats to Brentford and Millwall (with a win at Bristol City wedged in-between), leaves the Royals looking down the table at Middlesbrough. 

Boro now sit just five points behind fifth-placed Reading in eighth place and will be pleased to have survived the Royals early onslaught and return home will all three points. 

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The first action of the game came in the sixth minute when Alfa Semedo skipped past two players on the left and got to the Boro byline. 

His cross was weak, however, and Warnock’s men cleared. 

A counter-attack from the Royals in the 11th minute produced the first shot of the game after Olise laid the ball off to Rinomhota. 

His edge-of-the-box strike went inches wide, however, and Boro hung on. 

Reading had more chances with shots from Olise and Joao blocked and wide but it was Middlesbrough who took the lead on the 22nd minute against the run of play. 

A Paddy McNair free-kick was headed across goal and tapped in at the back post by striker Ashley Fletcher. 

READ MORE: The goals as they went in from Reading's loss to Middlesbrough

Reading responded well and nearly equalised on 27 minutes through Ovie Ejaria, whose powerful strike from the edge of the box went inches wide. 

But it was Boro who found the net next after Marc Bola sent a stunning strike into Rafael’s top corner from the edge of the box on the 29th minute. 

Middlesbrough almost made it three-nil right on half-time after breaking down the Royals’ right, but Rafael got down quickly to save a tame shot. 

The second 45 started with Reading on top and Tomas Esteves had a good chance after a loose ball fell to him from a corner, but his strike couldn’t find its way past Boro bodies. 

Boro could have stretched their lead soon after as Watmore broke from a Reading set-piece. 

Rafael was miles off his line but the Reds attacker couldn’t get his head up to spot the chance and the move petered out. 

Chances were few and far between following this incident with Warnock’s men setting into a rhythm. 

But the Royals almost got a goal back on the 62 minutes. 

Michael Morrison sent a long ball towards Yiadom, who played a 1-2 with Esteves and sent a low-drilled shot just wide of the Boro far post. 

Reading did have the ball in the net four minutes later but Ejaria’s through ball found Michael Olise a yard offside. 

The next big chance of the game came on the 80th minute when Fletcher should have put Boro three-nil up, but squandered a chance from an acute angle when sent through down Reading’s right. 

Middlesbrough saw the game out well with few chances afforded to the Royals in the closing stages. 

The referee called an end to the game with Reading lacking ideas going forward. 

The defeat marked the third home loss in a row for Reading and left them fifth in the table, five points clear of seventh place. 

Reading FC: Rafael, Yiadom, Morrison, McIntrye, Richards (Gibson); Laurent, Rinomhota; Olise (Aluko), Semedo (Esteves), Ejaria (Puscas); Joao.