Two goals by Arouna Kone lifted Wigan Athletic out of the bottom three and increased 10-man Reading's relegation fears at the Madejski Stadium.
The Ivory Coast striker opened the scoring when Maynor Figueroa's header hit his chest and flew into the net.
Kone made it 2-0 moments later with a sublime finish following Jean Beausejour's defence-splitting pass.
Figueroa completed the scoring, before falling victim to a dreadful Pavel Pogrebnyak challenge, who was sent off.
Pogrebnyak could have broken Figueroa's ankle and the Russian's dismissal added to manager Brian McDermott's problems.
McDermott knows his side must improve quickly if they are to stay up, particularly as his team's remaining 11 games include trips to Everton, Manchester United and Arsenal. They also have to host Liverpool and Manchester City.
Wigan arrived at the Madejski Stadium with a solitary win in their previous 13 league outings and 51 goals conceded in 26 top-flight outings.
No other team had conceded more in the Premier League yet it was Reading's back line who played like novices.
Wigan climb out of the bottom three after a dominant display ended Reading's impressive recent home form. Royals boss Brian McDermott will want to erase this quickly - particularly as his side have some tough looking games on the horizon
It would have been much worse for the Royals but for goalkeeper Adam Federici, the Australian diving full stretch to deny Franco Di Santo following a powerful early run by the Argentina striker.
Hope Akpan headed wastefully over from Jem Karacan's inviting cross, before a fine interception by Paul Scharner prevented Pogrebnyak from turning Jimmy Kebe's centre over the line.
But that was as good as it got for McDermott's lacklustre side.
Kone knew little about his first goal; Figueroa's header hitting the former Seville forward on the chest before flying into the net.
Yet, if the 29-year-old's opener was scruffy, his second proved his quality.
Jean Beausejour's delightful pass split the home defence and allowed Kone, who has recently returned from the Africa Cup of Nations, to clip the ball over the advancing keeper into the net.
Wigan's loyal away following were ecstatic yet it got even better after the break.
Figueroa had not scored a top-flight goal for almost two years but the Honduras left-back was celebrating after firing through Federici's legs following a clever one-two with Di Santo.
Pogrebnyak was then shown a straight red card for an ugly challenge on Figueroa, leaving Reading to see out the remaining 36 minutes with 10 men.
Having struggled all season, Wigan will be confident they can build on the momentum of this win to secure a ninth successive season in the Premier League.
Reading manager Brian McDermott:
"I'm going to move on quickly from that game. It's the only thing you can do in a situation like that.
"The first 43 minutes there wasn't too much in the game. They got a real spring in their step once they scored.
"But we didn't do the right things at the right time. We didn't get the details right."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez:
"The first goal came from a set-piece but the two after are as good as you are going to see.
"If we had done that previously in the season we would be in a much better position.
"The quality of our attacking play was a real difference."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +2:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Mikele Leigertwood on Jordi Gomez. Jordi Gomez takes the direct free kick.89:46
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James McArthur by Garath McCleary. James McArthur restarts play with the free kick.86:37
Centre by Sean Morrison, clearance by Paul Scharner.84:55
Paul Scharner delivers the ball, clearance by Stephen Kelly.82:09
Ian Harte restarts play with the free kick.82:09 Substitution
Substitution Antolin Alcaraz is brought on as a substitute for Emmerson Boyce.82:09
Free kick awarded for a foul by James McCarthy on Jobi McAnuff.81:00
Arouna Kone has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box which goes wide right of the target.80:00
Jean Beausejour takes the outswinging corner, Header from deep inside the area by Emmerson Boyce goes harmlessly over the crossbar.79:47
Jordi Gomez takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.79:14
Jean Beausejour delivers the ball, save made by Adam Federici.76:48
Corner taken by Shaun Maloney, clearance made by Mikele Leigertwood.76:36
Maynor Figueroa takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.74:24 Substitution
Substitution Jordi Gomez comes on in place of Franco Di Santo.74:10
Close range shot by Franco Di Santo goes over the bar.73:04
The ball is swung over by Noel Hunt, Paul Scharner manages to make a clearance.71:19
A cross is delivered by Stephen Kelly, clearance by James McArthur.70:25 Substitution
Substitution Garath McCleary replaces Jem Karacan.68:17
Shaun Maloney decides to take a short corner.
Corner taken short by Shaun Maloney.67:17
Jean Beausejour delivers the ball, Ian Harte gets a block in.67:01
Jean Beausejour delivers the ball.66:37
A cross is delivered by Emmerson Boyce, Adrian Mariappa manages to make a clearance.64:27
A cross is delivered by Franco Di Santo, clearance made by Adrian Mariappa.64:09
A cross is delivered by Jean Beausejour, Sean Morrison makes a clearance.62:47
Effort on goal by Jobi McAnuff from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.62:04
Direct free kick taken by Ian Harte.62:04 Substitution
Substitution (Reading) makes a substitution, with Noel Hunt coming on for Jimmy Kebe.62:04 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Emmerson Boyce for unsporting behaviour.61:54
Jobi McAnuff fouled by Emmerson Boyce, the ref awards a free kick.61:09
Mikele Leigertwood takes a shot. Paul Scharner gets a block in.58:16
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jimmy Kebe by James McArthur. Ian Harte crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel.54:14
Free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.54:14 Dismissal
Dismissal Pavel Pogrebnyak is shown a red card.53:47
Foul by Pavel Pogrebnyak on Maynor Figueroa, free kick awarded.51:21
Free kick awarded for a foul by James McArthur on Jem Karacan. Ian Harte restarts play with the free kick.50:33
Emmerson Boyce delivers the ball.49:03
Centre by Stephen Kelly, Header by Pavel Pogrebnyak from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.48:46
James McArthur gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mikele Leigertwood. Direct free kick taken by Mikele Leigertwood.47:29
Assist on the goal came from Franco Di Santo.47:29 Goal scored
Goal! - Maynor Figueroa - Reading 0 - 3 Wigan Maynor Figueroa finds the back of the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Reading 0-3 Wigan.46:11
Centre by Jimmy Kebe.45:35
Adam Le Fondre fouled by Paul Scharner, the ref awards a free kick. Ian Harte takes the direct free kick.45:01
The second half kicks off.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Hope Akpan goes off and Adam Le Fondre comes on.45:00 +2:14 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +1:03
Assist by Jean Beausejour.45:00 +1:03 Goal scored
Goal! - Arouna Kone - Reading 0 - 2 Wigan Arouna Kone grabs a goal from the edge of the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Reading 0-2 Wigan.43:07
Gary Caldwell takes a shot.43:09
Assist on the goal came from Maynor Figueroa. Blocked by Arouna Kone.43:09 Goal scored
Goal! - Arouna Kone - Reading 0 - 1 Wigan Arouna Kone grabs a goal from close in high into the middle of the goal. Reading 0-1 Wigan.42:45
Corner from the left by-line taken by Jean Beausejour, Maynor Figueroa takes a shot.42:34
Arouna Kone produces a cross, Stephen Kelly makes a clearance.41:52
Jobi McAnuff gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney. Paul Scharner restarts play with the free kick.41:14
James McArthur gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hope Akpan. Adam Federici takes the free kick.40:23
The ball is sent over by Paul Scharner, Ian Harte manages to make a clearance.40:03
Jean Beausejour crosses the ball, Stephen Kelly manages to make a clearance.39:46
Shaun Maloney takes a short corner.39:31
Arouna Kone takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.39:06
Corner from the right by-line taken by Shaun Maloney, clearance by Adrian Mariappa.38:52
Paul Scharner takes a shot. Blocked by Adrian Mariappa.34:53
The free kick is delivered right-footed by Shaun Maloney from left wing.34:53 Booking
Booking Mikele Leigertwood receives a yellow card.34:43
Franco Di Santo fouled by Mikele Leigertwood, the ref awards a free kick.32:25
Emmerson Boyce crosses the ball, Adrian Mariappa manages to make a clearance.31:22
Foul by Hope Akpan on Emmerson Boyce, free kick awarded. Paul Scharner takes the free kick.30:28
Jimmy Kebe delivers the ball, Foul by Hope Akpan on James McCarthy, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Ali Al Habsi.26:52
Emmerson Boyce delivers the ball. A cross is delivered by Maynor Figueroa, Jobi McAnuff makes a clearance.24:52
Corner taken left-footed by Ian Harte from the right by-line, Adrian Mariappa has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide of the left-hand upright.24:42
Jimmy Kebe produces a cross, clearance made by Paul Scharner.24:05
The referee blows for offside. Adam Federici takes the indirect free kick.23:18
Unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Mikele Leigertwood results in a free kick. Gary Caldwell restarts play with the free kick.22:12
Jobi McAnuff produces a cross, clearance made by Paul Scharner.21:04
Foul by Jem Karacan on James McArthur, free kick awarded. Gary Caldwell takes the free kick.19:31
James McCarthy concedes a free kick for a foul on Hope Akpan. Free kick taken by Adam Federici.16:51
Effort from the edge of the penalty area by Hope Akpan goes wide of the left-hand post.14:56
Emmerson Boyce concedes a free kick for a foul on Jobi McAnuff. Ian Harte delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, James McCarthy makes a clearance.13:34
Jimmy Kebe produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.13:14
Corner taken by Jobi McAnuff from the left by-line, clearance by Franco Di Santo.12:08
Paul Scharner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Pavel Pogrebnyak. Ian Harte crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Paul Scharner.11:04
Corner taken by Shaun Maloney, Header from deep inside the area by Paul Scharner goes over the bar.10:53
The ball is swung over by Shaun Maloney, blocked by Mikele Leigertwood.9:16
Foul by James McArthur on Jimmy Kebe, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Sean Morrison.5:06
The ball is sent over by Jem Karacan, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Hope Akpan goes harmlessly over the crossbar.3:15
Corner taken by Jean Beausejour from the left by-line to the near post.2:59
Franco Di Santo takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.0:28
The assistant referee signals for offside against Pavel Pogrebnyak. Indirect free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.0:00
The referee gets the game underway.
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