Huddersfield Town 1-2 Reading: Lucas Joao fires Royals to victory on injury return

Reading v Colchester Utd- Lucas Joao
Reading v Colchester Utd- Lucas Joao

Lucas Joao made an instant impact on his return from injury as he bagged a brace as Reading came back from a goal down to beat Huddersfield Town.

Fraizer Campbell gave the Terriers an early lead with a header, but Joao replied with two goals in the second half to get Reading off to a winning start in 2021.

The win puts Reading up to fourth in the Championship table at the halfway stage of the season after 23 games.

Veljko Paunovic was handed a boost with injury news which allowed him to make four changes from Reading’s draw at Swansea City in midweek.

Omar Richards, Lucas Joao and John Swift all made a return to the starting line-up after respective spells on the sidelines while Sone Aluko replaced Michael Olise in the starting eleven.

George Puscas also made a recovery from a hernia injury to return to the substitutes bench.

Reading had the first attack of the game just three minutes in when Lucas Joao spun on the halfway line and sprinted at the Huddersfield defence. He played a pass out wide to Swift who was stopped in his tracks as he tried to cut into the box.

But Huddersfield got off the mark with their first chance of the game, in the sixth minute.

Isaac Mbenza whipped an inviting cross into the middle of the area and Fraizer Campbell leaped ahead of Tom Holmes as he headed the ball into the ground and into the corner past Rafael to give the hosts an early lead.

The Royals had chances when Ovie Ejaria stole possession from the Terriers and found Sone Aluko, but Terriers keeper Ryan Schofield made a comfortable save.

Aluko had another big chance after the half hour mark, this time from the edge of the area but he arrowed his shot inches wide of the target as Paunovic’s side pressed for a leveller.

Swift began to stamp his creative influence on the match as the game grew, and he found Josh Laurent with a defence splitting pass, but Naby Sarr made an excellent recovery tackle to prevent a shot at goal.

With the last play of the half, Reading came agonisingly close to finding an equaliser , only to be kept out by Schofield.

Swift’s free kick was met by the head of Holmes at the back post but Schofield put his leg out at full stretch to deny Holmes a first Reading goal.

Despite having the better of possession in the first half, Reading couldn’t find the cutting edge to take advantage.

However, just seven minutes into the second half, Lucas Joao marked his return to the lineup with a goal, with his 12th Championship goal of the season.

Tom McIntyre curled a brilliant ball behind the defence for Joao to chase, and having reached the it, Joao shrugged a defender out of his path before he opened up his body and stroked the ball coolly past Schofield into the bottom right corner.

Paunovic’s first change of the game came in the 60th minute as Olise replaced Swift.

The Terriers should have put themselves back in front when a chance presented itself to Sarr, but he somehow missed the target from just a few yards out.

But just moments after missing the chance, the hosts were made to pay as Reading went up the other end and capitalised.

Joao spun on the ball, took a touch to work some space for a shot and fired a rocket past Schofield from 25 yards out to again show his paramount importance to the Royals side with his 13th league goal.

Rafael got down low to make a superb stop from Mbenza who hit a volley from the edge of the box which looked destined for the corner as Huddersfield searched to find a result with 10 minutes to go.

Joao managed 80 minutes, and two vital goals, before he was replaced by Alfa Semedo.

Another golden chance fell Mbenza’s way when Campbell slipped a through ball through to him but he poked his shot just wide of the post after Rafael had rushed from his goal.

Paunovic made a double switch as his side looked to close out the game, Sam Baldock and Tomas Esteves replaced Ovie Ejaria and Aluko.

Esteves almost wrapped up the points and marked his substitute appearance with a goal when his shot box rattled the crossbar in stoppage time.

But the Royals held out to claim all three points at the John Smith’s Stadium to kick of the new year with victory.

Reading are in FA Cup action next weekend with a third round tie away at Luton Town before they host Brentford the following weekend in their next league fixture.

Huddersfield: Schofield, Pipa, Toffolo, Hogg, Bacuna, O’Brien, Eiting, Mbenza, Campbell, Sarr, Edmonds-Green
Subs: Hamer, Vallejo, Pritchard, Duhaney, Circhlow, Brown, Rowe, Jackson, Phillips

Reading: Rafael, Richards, Holmes, Morrison, McIntyre, Rinomhota, Laurent, Swift, Ejaria, Aluko, Joao
Subs: Southwood, Esteves, Dorsett, Watson, East, Semedo, Olise, Baldock, Puscas

Goals: Campbell 6′, Lucas Joao 52′, 65′

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