Reading edged closer to relegation as Norwich City scored two goals in the space of 90 seconds to take a big step towards Premier League survival.

Ryan Bennett opened the scoring from eight yards after Royals keeper Alex McCarthy had denied Grant Holt.

Norwich fans were still celebrating when Elliott Bennett made it 2-0 after McCarthy failed to deal with a cross.

Norwich 2-1 Reading: Chris Hughton relieved with 'big win'

Garath McCleary scored a consolation for Reading, now 10 points from safety with four games left, from 18 yards.

Confirmation of the Royals' relegation after one season in the top flight will be confirmed if Aston Villa win at Manchester United on Monday.

This was their eighth defeat in nine games, and third in four matches since Nigel Adkins took over from Brian McDermott last month.

The visitors had enjoyed the better of the first half exchanges - McCleary going close from 18 yards before the same player drilled in a low cross which cannoned off Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong.

But the spirit quickly drained away from the Premier League's bottom club after their season-long defensive problems once again surfaced.

Norwich's remaining games

27 April: a v Stoke

04 May: h v Aston Villa

12 May: h v West Brom

19 May: a v Man City

They had conceded 63 times in their previous 33 matches, and that total increased to 65 in less than two second-half minutes.

Substitute Ryan Bennett, a first-half replacement for the injured Michael Turner, had failed to score for Norwich since joining from Peterborough 13 months ago.

But the 23-year-old defender was well placed to drill the ball into the roof of the net in the 50th minute after McCarthy had beaten away an attempt by Holt.

Norwich found themselves sucked into the battle to stay up after winning only one of their previous 16 league games.

But Chris Hughton's side are now seven points clear of the relegation zone after Elliott Bennett pounced with a shot after McCarthy had failed to hold a 52nd minute cross.

Canaries fans have endured some anxious moments in recent weeks and they were once again left feeling nervous when McCleary found the net 18 minutes from time.

Reading's remaining games

28 April: h v QPR

04 May: a v Fulham

14 May: h v Man City

19 May: a v West Ham

The former Nottingham Forest player rounded off a surging run with a tremendous finish from the edge of the box which beat keeper Mark Bunn for pace and power.

The party atmosphere was replaced by one of nervous tension, but Reading failed to create any further clear-cut chances which would have capped another late fightback.

Instead, Norwich will all but secure their Premier League safety if they overcome Stoke at the Britannia Stadium next Saturday.

As for Reading, they could be relegated by the time they host Queens Park Rangers on 28 April.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton:

"We needed it. There are teams around us that are all capable of winning games.

Norwich 2-1 Reading: Nigel Adkins says Reading 'didn't deal' with Norwich

"How it will end up in the end, numbers wise, I don't know, but at the moment this feels like a big win for us.

"I think it will take more points. I've always thought around that 40-mark and I think there are teams around us that are still very capable of winning games."

Reading boss Nigel Adkins:

"We can't hide away from the situation where we are in the league. I'm not going to do that."

He added: "I thought we did well in the first half. Unfortunately when we came out in the second half, for a 10, 15-minute period, we didn't deal with the physicality of Norwich City.

"To concede two goals so close together in the game, it effectively cost us the game."

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (3)

Norwich City

  • 28 Bunn
  • 02 R Martin
  • 05 Bassong
  • 06 Turner (R Bennett - 18' )
  • 18 Garrido
  • 04 Johnson
  • 07 Snodgrass Booked (Pilkington - 89' )
  • 08 Howson
  • 17 E Bennett Booked (Tettey - 80' )
  • 09 Holt
  • 16 Kamara

Substitutes

  • 42 Camp
  • 23 Tierney
  • 24 R Bennett
  • 12 Pilkington
  • 14 Hoolahan
  • 27 Tettey
  • 10 Jackson

Reading

  • 21 McCarthy
  • 02 Gunter
  • 06 Mariappa
  • 15 Morrison
  • 27 Kelly
  • 04 Karacan Booked
  • 11 McAnuff
  • 20 Guthrie Booked
  • 07 Pogrebnyak
  • 12 McCleary
  • 30 Blackman Booked

Substitutes

  • 41 Taylor
  • 05 Pearce
  • 24 Cummings
  • 08 Leigertwood
  • 29 Daniel Carrico
  • 09 Le Fondre
  • 10 Hunt
Ref: Dean
Att: 26,460

Match Stats

Shots

19 14

On target

9 6

Corners

8 8

Fouls

8 12

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:18 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +4:39

Unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Jem Karacan results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Grant Holt.

90:00 +4:16

Corner taken short by Kei Kamara.

90:00 +3:46

Sean Morrison gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt. Kei Kamara takes the direct free kick.

90:00 +2:29

Grant Holt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Kelly. Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.

90:00 +2:00

The ball is swung over by Chris Gunter, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Stephen Kelly misses to the left of the goal.

89:41

Effort from deep inside the area by Garath McCleary misses to the left of the target.

88:11

Corner from the right by-line taken by Danny Guthrie, Alexander Tettey makes a clearance.

88:11 Substitution

Substitution (Norwich) makes a substitution, with Anthony Pilkington coming on for Robert Snodgrass.

87:02

Chris Gunter takes a shot. Blocked by Bradley Johnson.

86:10

Alexander Tettey fouled by Garath McCleary, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Bunn takes the free kick.

85:20

Unfair challenge on Sebastien Bassong by Garath McCleary results in a free kick. Mark Bunn takes the free kick.

81:49

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Guthrie by Alexander Tettey. Free kick taken by Danny Guthrie.

81:01

The referee blows for offside against Grant Holt. Danny Guthrie takes the free kick.

80:39

Danny Guthrie challenges Sebastien Bassong unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mark Bunn restarts play with the free kick.

79:00

Free kick taken by Alex McCarthy.

79:00 Substitution

Substitution Alexander Tettey on for Elliott Bennett.

79:00

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Guthrie by Bradley Johnson.

77:49 Booking

Booking Elliott Bennett goes into the book.

77:33

Nick Blackman has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide left of the goal.

74:45

Jem Karacan takes a shot from 20 yards. Comfortable save by Mark Bunn.

74:31

Jobi McAnuff produces a volleyed right-footed shot from 18 yards. Blocked by Russell Martin.

73:56

The assistant referee signals for offside against Grant Holt. Alex McCarthy takes the indirect free kick.

72:41

Corner from the left by-line taken by Robert Snodgrass, Headed effort from inside the area by Kei Kamara misses to the left of the goal.

71:32

Assist by Danny Guthrie.

71:32 Goal scored

Goal! - Garath McCleary - Norwich 2 - 1 Reading Garath McCleary grabs a goal from outside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Norwich 2-1 Reading.

71:06

Robert Snodgrass crosses the ball.

69:25

The ball is crossed by Javier Garrido, Effort from the edge of the area by Kei Kamara goes wide of the left-hand post.

68:54

Grant Holt sends in a cross, clearance made by Chris Gunter.

68:15

Russell Martin produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.

67:26

Free kick taken by Mark Bunn.

67:26 Booking

Booking Booking for Nick Blackman for unsporting behaviour.

67:14

Unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass by Nick Blackman results in a free kick.

66:56

Sebastien Bassong gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Danny Guthrie. Sean Morrison takes the free kick.

65:54

Corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from the left by-line, Sebastien Bassong produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.

65:09

Centre by Robert Snodgrass, Adrian Mariappa manages to make a clearance.

64:57

Elliott Bennett produces a cross, clearance by Chris Gunter.

62:09

Danny Guthrie takes the outswinging corner, Grant Holt makes a clearance.

61:47 Booking

Booking Robert Snodgrass is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

60:53

Robert Snodgrass challenges Chris Gunter unfairly and gives away a free kick. Danny Guthrie crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, clearance by Bradley Johnson.

60:40

Centre by Chris Gunter, Elliott Bennett makes a clearance.

60:16

Effort on goal by Jobi McAnuff from 12 yards. Blocked by Ryan Bennett.

59:24

The referee blows for offside. Alex McCarthy restarts play with the free kick.

56:52

Corner taken by Robert Snodgrass from the left by-line to the near post, Kei Kamara takes a shot. Save made by Alex McCarthy.

56:38

Robert Snodgrass takes a shot. Save by Alex McCarthy.

55:02

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass, Grant Holt produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.

54:48

Kei Kamara takes a shot. Clearance by Stephen Kelly.

54:16

Foul by Elliott Bennett on Stephen Kelly, free kick awarded. Stephen Kelly takes the free kick.

52:36

Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Robert Snodgrass, Grant Holt has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.

51:06

Assist on the goal came from Russell Martin.

51:06 Goal scored

Goal! - Elliott Bennett - Norwich 2 - 0 Reading A goal is scored by Elliott Bennett from deep inside the penalty area to the top right corner of the goal. Norwich 2-0 Reading.

49:37

Assist on the goal came from Grant Holt.

49:37 Goal scored

Goal! - Ryan Bennett - Norwich 1 - 0 Reading Ryan Bennett fires in a goal from inside the area high into the middle of the goal. Norwich 1-0 Reading.

49:35

Grant Holt takes a shot. Save by Alex McCarthy.

49:23

Corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from the left by-line, Alex McCarthy makes a save.

49:23 Booking

Booking The referee cautions Jem Karacan for unsporting behaviour.

48:56

Kei Kamara takes a shot. Save by Alex McCarthy.

47:40

Grant Holt is caught offside. Alex McCarthy takes the free kick.

45:01

The referee starts the second half.

45:00 +2:30 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

45:00 +1:24

Corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from the right by-line, save made by Alex McCarthy.

45:00 +1:04

Shot by Kei Kamara from 18 yards. Save by Alex McCarthy.

45:00 +0:25

Unfair challenge on Russell Martin by Garath McCleary results in a free kick. Ryan Bennett takes the free kick.

44:35

The ball is delivered by Elliott Bennett, comfortable save by Alex McCarthy.

42:56

Kei Kamara fouled by Jem Karacan, the ref awards a free kick. Russell Martin takes the free kick.

42:24

The ball is sent over by Chris Gunter.

41:30

The ball is swung over by Garath McCleary, Pavel Pogrebnyak produces a right-footed shot from inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.

41:02

Inswinging corner taken by Jobi McAnuff from the left by-line.

40:55

Centre by Stephen Kelly, Russell Martin makes a clearance.

39:38

Grant Holt is ruled offside. Adrian Mariappa takes the indirect free kick.

38:59

Garath McCleary takes a shot. Russell Martin gets a block in.

36:07

Corner taken by Garath McCleary from the left by-line, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mark Bunn by Pavel Pogrebnyak. Free kick taken by Mark Bunn.

33:54

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Jobi McAnuff, Jonathan Howson makes a clearance.

33:46

Stephen Kelly produces a cross, Robert Snodgrass makes a clearance.

33:04

Grant Holt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sean Morrison. Adrian Mariappa restarts play with the free kick.

32:19

Shot by Danny Guthrie from outside the box goes over the net.

32:07

The ball is sent over by Chris Gunter, Sebastien Bassong makes a clearance.

31:21

Garath McCleary takes a shot. Save by Mark Bunn.

30:46

Outswinging corner taken by Danny Guthrie, Sebastien Bassong manages to make a clearance.

29:58

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Danny Guthrie, Kei Kamara manages to make a clearance.

29:47

Danny Guthrie sends in a cross, Bradley Johnson manages to make a clearance.

26:20

Shot by Garath McCleary from outside the area goes high over the crossbar.

25:49

Centre by Grant Holt, clearance by Chris Gunter.

23:10

Nick Blackman gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Javier Garrido. Mark Bunn takes the direct free kick.

20:59

Nick Blackman challenges Elliott Bennett unfairly and gives away a free kick. Javier Garrido crosses the ball in from the free kick, Adrian Mariappa makes a clearance.

19:31

Foul by Jem Karacan on Robert Snodgrass, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed left-footed by Robert Snodgrass from right channel.

17:35 Substitution

Substitution Ryan Bennett comes on in place of Michael Turner.

14:24

Unfair challenge on Pavel Pogrebnyak by Russell Martin results in a free kick. Stephen Kelly takes the free kick.

14:02

Robert Snodgrass produces a cross, clearance made by Adrian Mariappa.

12:53

Effort from just outside the area by Nick Blackman goes over the bar.

12:20 Booking

Booking Danny Guthrie goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.

11:42

Robert Snodgrass crosses the ball, Javier Garrido takes a shot. Comfortable save by Alex McCarthy.

10:21

The assistant referee signals for offside against Pavel Pogrebnyak. Mark Bunn takes the indirect free kick.

9:37

The ball is sent over by Grant Holt.

8:57

Robert Snodgrass has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide left of the target.

8:15

The ball is crossed by Russell Martin, Chris Gunter manages to make a clearance.

7:47

Corner taken right-footed by Jobi McAnuff to the near post, clearance by Russell Martin.

7:07

Garath McCleary sends in a cross, Sebastien Bassong manages to make a clearance. The ball is sent over by Garath McCleary, Russell Martin manages to make a clearance.

4:21

Elliott Bennett produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.

2:24

A cross is delivered by Javier Garrido, Robert Snodgrass takes a shot.

1:23

Shot from outside the penalty box by Elliott Bennett goes wide right of the goal.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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