Manchester United got off to an awful start against Reading and had to make a comeback to pull out all three points, but they managed to do enough for a win and a little more. The Red Devils got the better of the latter part of an insane seven-goal first half, and should have had more than their four goals.
Ultimately, the second half was much less interesting than the first, and United held on for a 4-3 victory after a scoreless second 45 minutes of play.
Hal-Robson Kanu stunned Manchester United with a 8th minute opening goal, scored with an impressive side-volley. On two separate occasions, Jonny Evans helped him to score. First, he failed to clear a cross by Jobi McAnuff, and instead directed the ball right to Robson-Kanu. The Reading winger's shot deflected off Evans' back, giving Anders Lindegaard no chance to make a save.
The Red Devils got an equalizer from the most unlikely of sources, Anderson, who scored his first goal in the league in over a year. Michael Carrick started the move with a beautiful flick to Ashley Young, who played Anderson in on goal, and the Brazilian finished first time to the near post. They went ahead in the 16th minute when Jay Tabb gave away a penalty, and Wayne Rooney converted.
Shockingly, United's set piece defense crumbled and allowed Reading to take the lead for the second time in the game with two goals in quick succession, both assisted by Nicky Shorey with in-swinging corners onto the heads of his teammates. Adam Le Fondre netted the first in the 19th minute, and Sean Morrison added another four minutes later.
United equalized through Rooney in the 30th minute, thanks to a cross into the box by Patrice Evra, set up by Young with a brilliant backheel. Just prior to the goal, Rafael had picked up a yellow card and looked very much in danger of getting sent off. Recognizing the situation, Alex Ferguson took him off to ensure his team would have a good chance to complete their comeback against Reading, which also keeping Rafael available for the Manchester Derby. He was visibly upset when he exited, but the solid play of Chris Smalling and United's win suggest that Ferguson made the right move.
Robin van Persie netted the eventual winner in the 35th minute, finishing after a through ball by Rooney. He appeared to be a step offside live, but was clearly kept onside by the late-reacting Shorey. Van Persie should have had another goal in the 40th minute, when he had a shot cleared from the inside of the goal, but the referee ruled that the ball did not cross the line.
While the second half featured some decent chances by the standards of most games, it was entirely uneventful according to the standard set by the first half. As long as Reading had an obligation to attack, United were comfortable with playing less conservatively than they did in the first half. Without a wide-open midfield to exploit, Reading were light on ideas and couldn't find an equalizer.