United on top after thrilling win
Wayne Rooney answered the goalscoring rallying cry of his manager as Manchester United twice came from behind to beat Reading 4-3 and move three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Rooney struck twice in a thrilling match at the Madejski Stadium, where all seven goals came in a 34-minute spell in the first half. Hal Robson-Kanu gave Reading an early lead before United hit back with Anderson levelling and Rooney putting them ahead from the spot.
Reading stunned the visitors with two quick-fire goals to regain the lead as Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison both scored with close-range headers, but another effort from Rooney and a neat finish from Robin van Persie saw United take the spoils.
The home side went ahead in the seventh minute after Jonny Evans could only head Jobi McAnuff's cross into the path of Robson-Kanu, who volleyed past Anders Lindegaard. United responded in typical fashin as Anderson and Ashley Young exchanged passes with the Brazil international lashing United level.
Just nine minutes after falling behind the visitors were ahead after Jay Tabb bundled into the back of Evans in the box leaving Rooney to slot home from the penalty spot. Reading were level just three minutes later as United fan Le Fondre wriggled free of Evans in the area to head home a Nicky Shorey corner.
Brian McDermott's side took advantage of further poor defending from United to re-take the lead as Morrison beat Evans to a corner and powered a close-range header past Lindegaard. But United hit back as Young freed Patrice Evra down the left and his low cross was tucked away by Rooney to make it 3-3.
Ferguson replaced Rafael with the more powerful Chris Smalling, and just four minutes after Rooney's effort United took the lead yet again. Michael Carrick's through-ball was deflected into the path of Van Persie by a clever Rooney touch and the Dutchman fired past Federici with his weaker right foot.
United were denied a fifth goal before half-time as Van Persie pounced on a smart Federici save and directed an effort goalwards. Adrian Mariappa was in the right place to clear but it appeared the whole of the ball had crossed the line before the former Watford man hacked it away.
The second half started much calmer but it was the home side who were pressing forward. Lindegaard fumbled a simple catch from a Shorey corner before Halsey waved away Reading appeals for a penalty after Evra won the ball in a challenge with Mariappa.
Van Persie wasted a good chance to put United two clear when he robbed the ball off a dallying Federici but could not hit the empty net from a relatively tight angle. Smalling found himself in space on the right flank with just three minutes left on the clock but he could only blaze an uncontrolled effort wide.