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."

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