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Teemu Pukki on target again as Norwich return to the summit

Reading v Norwich City – Sky Bet Championship – Madejski Stadium
(Image credit: Steve Parsons)

Norwich returned to the top of the Championship with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

In an entertaining first half, Norwich went ahead through Emiliano Buendia early on only for Michael Olise to level soon after.

Top-scorer Teemu Pukki took his tally for the season into double figures when he stroked home a penalty in the 55th minute.

A fourth successive 2-1 win sent City three points clear at the summit.

Norwich had gradually overcome a series of injuries to key players to fashion a run of only one defeat in 14 matches, which included 10 victories.

They won 2-1 at Blackburn on Saturday, with Pukki scoring twice.

Reading had shown improved form lately, with three wins from their past five outings.

But they had also been afflicted by injuries. Leading marksmen Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite – with 14 and six goals respectively – have been ruled out until the new year.

The Madejski’s East Stand was again populated by about 2,000 fans for the third successive home match.

Norwich, replaced at the top by Bournemouth after their 1-0 home win over Wycombe on Tuesday, started brightly in Berkshire.

Pukki seized on an error in midfield by Josh Laurent but, after running on unopposed, he shot tamely at home goalkeeper Rafael.

In the 11th minute, though, Norwich were gifted the opener after Reading had tried to cleverly play the ball out of defence.

They failed miserably, with Buendia taking full advantage. He cut in from the right and beat Rafael with a low drive.

Three minutes later, Reading were level after Sone Aluko’s blocked shot had been fired goalwards by Ovie Ejaria.

City keeper Michael McGovern was clearly wrongfooted as the ball took a deflection off Olise and past him.

Norwich responded positively, with Pukki twice denied by the flying Rafael.

Both were firm volleys from right-wing crosses to the near post but Rafael made a pair excellent stops.

City head coach Daniel Farke brought on substitutes Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell at half-time in an effort to freshen up his troops.

It seemed to work, with Norwich regaining their momentum and the lead 10 minutes after the break.

Max Aarons proved too tricky for home skipper Liam Moore, who clumsily brought him down in the area, and Pukki guided in the penalty.

Reading tried to get back into it but Ejaria was well off target from long range.

And Norwich could have stretched their lead when a Dowell snapshot deflected on to a post with Rafael stranded.

In the end, though, Pukki’s sure touch from the spot proved enough for the new table-toppers.