Troy Deeney’s early double steered Birmingham towards a 3-2 victory over Reading in the Sky Bet Championship on Friday night.
The striker netted the opener in the second minute at St Andrew’s, before winning and converting his second from the penalty spot midway through the first half. Tahith Chong then added a third before the break.
It was a fine night for Birmingham, in front of the watching Jude Bellingham, as England’s star teenager returned to the Blues for the first time since his departure for Borussia Dortmund in 2020. He even got to see his brother Jobe, two years younger at 17, introduced as a late substitute.
For Reading it was defeat after back-to-back wins that saw them miss the chance to move back into the play-off places ahead of the weekend, although they did grab two late goals from Lucas Joao and Tom Ince to add some respectability to the scoreline.
Blues do the damage in the first half at St Andrew’s
It was the perfect start for Deeney on his 600th career appearance as he put his side in front after just 63 seconds, taking advantage of Mamadou Loum’s wayward touch on Juninho Bacuna’s cross, to turn from close range and finish past Joe Lumley.
Another sloppy moment at the back led to Deeney’s second on 23 minutes. He played a smart one-two with Chong before being chopped down in the box by Naby Sarr, before stepping up to drill the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.
And it got even worse for Reading on 36 minutes. They turned off at the back and Amadou Mbengue – last week’s hero against Coventry – failed to make contact with the ball as he tried to clear, which allowed Chong to race in behind, round Lumley and find the back of the net to make it 3-0.
Paul Ince responded in the second half with a raft of substitutions for Reading, and two of those combined after 82 minutes to give his side a potential lifeline, as Andy Carroll’s effort ricocheted off Jeff Hendrick and into the path of Joao – who smuggled in a header from half a yard.
And there was late hope for the Royals as Tom Ince saw a strike deflect past John Ruddy late in stoppage-time, but it proved to be just another consolation goal as they ran out of time to find an equaliser.
Player of the Match – Troy Deeney
Lee Hendrie on Sky Sports Football:
“There’s only one person it can be. He’s got himself a brace. 600 appearances and he’s showed the quality he has still. His presence on the pitch was nothing short of excellent.”
Both sides are back in action live on Sky Sports Football in a double header on Tuesday, December 27. Reading host Swansea from 5pm (kick-off 5.15pm), while Burnley face Birmingham from 7.30pm (kick-off 8pm).
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