Reading's hopes of avoiding relegation suffered another massive blow as they were well beaten by a Southampton side who have all but secured safety.
The Royals, managed by former Saints boss Nigel Adkins, made a bright start but faded badly after Jay Rodriguez slid in to give Southampton the lead.
The visitors' dominance brought further reward when Adam Lallana slotted the second past Adam Federici.
Reading rarely threatened as they slumped to a seventh successive loss.
It is a Premier League run that only the Royals' own sequence earlier in the campaign can match this season, and one that leaves them seven points adrift of 17th-placed Wigan, who also have two games in hand.
Southampton, in contrast, are seven points clear of the relegation zone after a third successive league win.
Adkins, facing the club who sacked him in January following a five-game unbeaten league run, cut a forlorn figure as he watched his new recruits outplayed and out-thought by the side he put together.
Lining up with five changes from the side thrashed 4-1 by Arsenal last weekend, Reading started positively and came close to scoring when an unmarked Sean Morrison headed Chris Gunter's free-kick over the bar.
Another free-kick from almost the same spot presented the hosts with an even better opportunity midway through the half as the ball bobbled off two Southampton players to the Royals' top-scorer Adam Le Fondre, who sliced his half-volley high.
Reading's Premier League run-in
- 13 April: Liverpool (h)
- 20 April: Norwich (a)
- 28 April: QPR (h)
- 4 May: Fulham (a)
- 12 May: Man City (h)
- 19 May: West Ham (a)
The chance marked the start of an uncomfortable spell for Southampton in which the hosts were denied a penalty when Hal Robson-Kanu went down under a challenge from Jos Hooiveld and Adrian Mariappa's header from Guthrie's cross drew a sharp save from Saints keeper Artur Boruc at his near post.
The visitors, for their part, enjoyed plenty of possession but did not threaten Federici's goal until the 35th minute, when Gaston Ramirez headed Jack Cork's cross narrowly wide.
Moments later, the visitors were ahead. Rodriguez laid the ball off to Lambert and chased down his strike partner's chipped return. Reaching the ball a fraction of a second before Federici, he slid in to prod the ball home through the keeper's legs.
Rodriguez's momentum took him through Federici, prompting angry calls from Adkins for a foul, but referee Mike Jones awarded the goal.
Suddenly rampant, the Saints could then have put the game beyond their hosts before half-time. Rodriguez drilled a shot against the bar from 10 yards, then brought a one-handed save out of Federici after a mistake from Mariappa. The loose ball fell kindly for Ramirez but he dragged his side-footed effort wide.
Reading's defensive frailties were exposed again early in the second half as Steven Davis sprinted on to Lambert's volleyed pass only to shoot tamely at Federici.
And shortly afterwards, Lambert came within a boot's length of toe-poking home a low cross from Rodriguez.
The second goal came from another flowing move as substitute Lallana played a one-two with Rodriguez and calmly side-footed his 50th Southampton goal.
Reading resorted to a more direct approach and it almost paid dividends when a long ball found Le Fondre, whose header was caught - and almost carried over his line - by a back-pedalling Boruc.
Reading's players and fans screamed for a goal but replays suggested the whole of the ball had not crossed the line.
Angry and frustrated, the Royals supporters started to flood out of the stadium in the last 10 minutes, knowing that their team's days in the Premier League are likely to be running out.
- 01 Federici
- 02 Gunter
- 06 Mariappa
- 15 Morrison
- 27 Kelly
- 04 Karacan
- 11 McAnuff
- 19 Robson-Kanu (Hunt - 74' )
- 20 Guthrie (McCleary - 62' )
- 28 Akpan (Leigertwood - 46' )
- 09 Le Fondre
- 21 McCarthy
- 05 Pearce
- 23 Harte
- 08 Leigertwood
- 07 Pogrebnyak
- 10 Hunt
- 12 McCleary
- 31 Boruc
- 02 Clyne
- 03 Yoshida
- 05 Hooiveld
- 23 Shaw
- 04 Schneiderlin
- 08 S Davis (Guly - 88' )
- 10 Ramirez (Lallana - 63' )
- 18 Cork
- 07 Lambert
- 09 Rodriguez
- 01 K Davis
- 06 Fonte
- 13 Fox
- 16 Ward-Prowse
- 20 Lallana
- 21 Guly
- 42 Puncheon
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +3:19
Garath McCleary takes a outswinging corner.90:00 +2:10
Foul by Guly Do Prado on Chris Gunter, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Chris Gunter.90:00 +1:35
Shot on goal by Guly Do Prado from just inside the area goes over the target.90:00 +0:01
Foul by Jay Rodriguez on Sean Morrison, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Adam Federici.87:45 Substitution
Substitution Guly Do Prado is brought on as a substitute for Steven Davis.86:43
The assistant referee signals for offside against Rickie Lambert. Adam Federici takes the indirect free kick.85:46
Free kick awarded for a foul by Noel Hunt on Jack Cork. Maya Yoshida restarts play with the free kick.81:52
The assistant referee signals for offside against Adam Lallana. Adam Federici takes the free kick.78:40
Corner taken right-footed by Jobi McAnuff, Artur Boruc makes a save.76:04
Adam Lallana challenges Jobi McAnuff unfairly and gives away a free kick. Noel Hunt crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.75:22
Adam Le Fondre takes a shot. Artur Boruc makes a save.74:48
Foul by Nathaniel Clyne on Jobi McAnuff, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Kelly.74:22
Jobi McAnuff takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.73:31
Luke Shaw challenges Garath McCleary unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jobi McAnuff crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing.73:04 Substitution
Substitution Hal Robson-Kanu goes off and Noel Hunt comes on.71:54
Assist by Jay Rodriguez.71:54 Goal scored
Goal! - Adam Lallana - Reading 0 - 2 Southamp'n Adam Lallana finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Reading 0-2 Southampton.69:06
Effort from outside the penalty area by Jay Rodriguez goes wide left of the target.66:48
Luke Shaw concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Gunter. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.
Steven Davis takes a outswinging corner to the near post.62:40 Substitution
Substitution Adam Lallana on for Gaston Ramirez.61:22 Substitution
Substitution (Reading) makes a substitution, with Garath McCleary coming on for Danny Guthrie.61:22
Morgan Schneiderlin produces a cross.60:28
Adam Le Fondre has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand post.59:20
Jay Rodriguez delivers the ball.58:12
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Jobi McAnuff, Jack Cork makes a clearance.56:17
Corner taken right-footed by Jobi McAnuff, Artur Boruc makes a save.55:41
Morgan Schneiderlin concedes a free kick for a foul on Jem Karacan. Adrian Mariappa restarts play with the free kick.51:42
Steven Davis takes a shot. Adam Federici makes a save.50:49
Jay Rodriguez is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.48:25
Corner taken by Jobi McAnuff.46:00
Noel Hunt takes a shot. Artur Boruc makes a save.45:01
The second half begins.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Mikele Leigertwood is brought on as a substitute for Hope Akpan.45:00 +2:11 Half time
Half Time The match has reached half-time.42:43
Foul by Hal Robson-Kanu on Steven Davis, free kick awarded. Jos Hooiveld restarts play with the free kick.42:05
Jay Rodriguez takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici. Shot by Gaston Ramirez from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.41:11
Unfair challenge on Stephen Kelly by Gaston Ramirez results in a free kick. Danny Guthrie restarts play with the free kick.38:15
The referee gives a free kick against Hope Akpan for handball. Free kick taken by Jos Hooiveld.37:27
Steven Davis takes a inswinging corner.37:04
Jay Rodriguez takes a shot.36:02
Corner taken by Danny Guthrie played to the near post, Effort on goal by Adam Le Fondre from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.34:00
The assist for the goal came from Rickie Lambert.34:00 Goal scored
Goal! - Jay Rodriguez - Reading 0 - 1 Southamp'n Jay Rodriguez scores a goal from deep inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Reading 0-1 Southampton.32:40
Header by Gaston Ramirez from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.31:29
The referee blows for offside against Jay Rodriguez. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.26:57
Inswinging corner taken by Gaston Ramirez from the right by-line, clearance made by Hope Akpan.25:49
Gaston Ramirez has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.24:09
Header from deep inside the area by Morgan Schneiderlin goes over the bar.22:19
Danny Guthrie crosses the ball, Adrian Mariappa takes a shot. Save made by Artur Boruc.21:18
Corner taken by Danny Guthrie, clearance made by Jay Rodriguez.20:02
Shot from deep inside the area by Adam Le Fondre goes over the bar.19:12
Unfair challenge on Danny Guthrie by Jos Hooiveld results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Danny Guthrie.18:05
The referee blows for offside. Sean Morrison takes the indirect free kick.16:05
Jay Rodriguez is ruled offside. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.15:09
Corner taken right-footed by Steven Davis, clearance by Adrian Mariappa.13:26
Artur Boruc fouled by Adam Le Fondre, the ref awards a free kick. Artur Boruc takes the direct free kick.12:39
Shot from outside the box by Gaston Ramirez misses to the left of the target.9:39
The referee blows for offside against Adam Le Fondre. Jos Hooiveld takes the indirect free kick.8:38
Corner taken by Jobi McAnuff from the left by-line, Artur Boruc makes a save.6:48
Foul by Danny Guthrie on Gaston Ramirez, free kick awarded. Artur Boruc takes the free kick.4:13
Foul by Chris Gunter on Jay Rodriguez, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Luke Shaw.2:53
Jay Rodriguez is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. The ball is sent over by Stephen Kelly, Header on goal by Sean Morrison from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.2:33
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Gunter by Morgan Schneiderlin. Direct free kick taken by Adam Federici.0:10
Rickie Lambert gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sean Morrison. Direct free kick taken by Adam Federici.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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