Reading boss not blaming penalty decision for defeat to City

Max Aarons of Norwich is fouled by Liam Moore of Reading and a penalty is awarded to Norwich by Refe

Max Aarons of Norwich is fouled by Liam Moore of Reading and a penalty is awarded to Norwich by Referee Geoff Eltringham during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Madejski Stadium, Reading - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Reading boss Veljko Paunovic didn’t want to hide behind a contentious penalty decision after his team’s 2-1 defeat to Championship leaders Norwich. 

The Canaries had six shots on target to the Royals’ two and the hosts’ goal was also courtesy of a big deflection, but the game was settled by a Teemu Pukki penalty in the 55th minute after Liam Moore had lunged in just as Max Aarons was about to shoot from close range. 

Paunovic explained: "I've received about 15 messages from friends and family saying 'hmm, it's not clear if it was a penalty'. 

"I haven't had a look but it is football. If it was or wasn't a penalty we can't change it. We will work on what we can control and will seek for improvement in our game. 

“We looked to affect them on the counter-attack but the penalty changed the game. 

"You have to be ready to adapt and look for your opportunities.” 

Home keeper Rafael had twice denied Teemu Pukki in the first half, as well as a Grant Hanley header, and in the second half substitute Kieran Dowell had a shot deflected onto the post and Emi Buendia also went close to a second goal. 

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Defeat left the Royals fifth and seven points adrift of the leaders, with influential attacking players including John Swift, Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite all out injured - but the visitors still needed a crucial Michael McGovern save of a Michael Olise free-kick in injury-time to see out the win.

"The team gave its best and you can't ask for more,” said Paunovic. 

"I am very happy with how quickly we recovered in the first half after the goal. 

"In the past, it would have taken much longer for our team to bounce back. 

"We were still well organised and looking for our opportunities and the goal came from one of the switches we had prepared.” 

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