Yakou Meite scored four goals, including a first-half hat-trick, as Reading heaped further pressure on struggling Luton with a thumping 5-0 win at Kenilworth Road.
The striker had his treble after just 35 minutes as the Royals ran riot to record their first victory since the restart, with Town, the league’s bottom side, collapsing in the face of the onslaught.
George Puscas was also on target for the ruthless visitors.
Reading might have gone ahead early on, Meite seeing his close-range attempt brilliantly cleared off the line by Dan Potts after goalkeeper Simon Sluga could only parry a cross-shot.
James Collins then hit the bar for Luton, unable to keep his header from Harry Cornick’s cross down, while Matty Pearson had appeals for a penalty rejected as the visitors soon assumed complete control.
They went in front after 17 minutes when Meite was put in the clear by Puscas and kept his nerve to slide his shot underneath Sluga.
Reading doubled their advantage just 60 seconds later.
Luton’s defence, which had been so watertight as they held leaders Leeds in midweek, crumbled as Sluga fumbled Gabriel Osho’s cross, Pearson could not clear Puscas’s follow-up and Meite was able to blast home his second.
Tom McIntyre almost had a third, his shot deflecting straight into Sluga’s grasp, but Meite then completed his hat-trick, arrowing a shot into the corner after Ovie Ejaria’s clever pass had put him clean through once more.
Meite attempted to notch a fourth from outside the area, but got underneath his fierce effort.
Town boss Nathan Jones made two changes at the break, bringing James Bree and Luke Berry on, but still Reading pressed.
John Swift’s shot drew a save from Sluga at his near post, the Croatian parrying behind.
Reading did make it 4-0 after 57 minutes when a long ball was met by Michael Morrison, and his towering header back across goal found Puscas to score.
Meite then grabbed his fourth, Luton’s defence sliced open once more and the Ivory Coast international making no mistake when faced with Sluga.
The Hatters had a sniff of a consolation, Collins unable to convert Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu’s cross with 25 minutes left, while they had a great chance in the closing stages, defender Dan Potts’ low shot repelled by keeper Rafael’s legs after a good move.
But centre-half McIntyre almost got Reading’s sixth in the 89th minute, reaching a deep free-kick at the back post, only for Sluga to block and then gather the rebound.
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