02:09PM, Wednesday 17 May 2017
Wembley beckons for Reading after Jaap Stam’s side edged past Fulham in the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.
The Royals returned to the Madejski Stadium last night with the tie finely poised at 1-1.
A 49th minute penalty from Yann Kermorgant, awarded after Tomas Kalas handled in the area, proved to be decisive for the hosts with referee Martin Atkinson’s full-time whistle cueing a mass pitch invasion.
Stam said: "It’s great to be at Wembley. I’ve been there in my career as a player and go there as a manager, of course it is a different stadium now, but it is fantastic.
"There is lot at stake and it is going to be a very difficult game against one of two top sides.”
The hosts were once again indebted to goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi who pulled off a string of remarkable stops to keep the visitors out.
In the 27th minute he clawed out a Tom Cairney free-kick before scrambling to his feet to stop Sone Aluko’s rebound.
Then, with just 13 minutes remaining, he somehow managed to tip Kevin McDonald’s shot over the crossbar after Aluko had bamboozled Joey van den Berg on the right-hand touchline.
Stam added: "We know that Ali is a great goalkeeper. It’s not only today, it has been all season. He made some great saves and that is what we pay him for. Whenever someone could not get a block in, he was there to save.”
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