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Veljko Paunovic hails Reading’s growing self-belief

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

Veljko Paunovic believes Reading’s 2-1 win at Huddersfield signalled a change in their mentality.

For the first time under his management, the Royals won a game after going behind.

Lucas Joao’s impressive second half brace turned the game on its head in West Yorkshire after Fraizer Campbell had given Town an early lead.

Paunovic said: “We know we win a lot when we take the lead first, but we knew due to the data that when we concede first we’re not capable of winning usually.

“We needed to improve that and to be honest I’ve heard that’s been a problem (for the club) in the past.

“We are addressing that now. It was a fantastic win and especially coming from behind.

“Conceding early affected our plans, but we put in one of the best performances this season.

“I’m so excited with the performance that we put in and am grateful for everything they did today.

“This is a huge improvement in our identity and mentality. Belief will only grow now.”

Paunovic had particular praise for match-winner Joao, who was making his first appearance since December 9 due to injury.

The Portuguese’s goals were his 15th and 16th of the campaign.

Paunovic said: “His performance was fantastic. I was impressed with his fitness and, after a three-week injury, this sharpness and form was great to see.

“He played 75 minutes and he almost played a perfect game.”

The hosts started the brighter and went ahead after just six minutes, Campbell thumping home a header from from Isaac Mbenza’s precise centre.

That was as good as it got for Town in the first half, though.

Reading slowly grew into the contest, Sone Aluko coming close on two occasions and Tom Holmes seeing a point-blank header kept out by an alert Ryan Schofield.

Huddersfield had a chance to double their lead early in the second half as Lewis O’Brien’s ball in just evaded Mbenza, but instead it was the visitors who hit back.

Joao latched on to a long punt upfield to equalise in the 52nd minute and then fired home the winner from outside the area 13 minutes later.

Town pushed to get back into the match, but their best chance saw Mbenza put an effort wide of a post as the visitors held on.

Head coach Carlos Corberan said: “The team started really well and the opening minutes were fantastic.

“After we scored we had lots of the ball. But in the second part of the first half they grew into it.

“We needed to adapt better and then after the break they created more chances.

“We had a chance (to go 2-0) but missed and then with one long ball they drew level.

“Then they started to feel more confidence. They went 2-1 up but we reacted, unfortunately it was not enough from us.”