SHANE LONG’S 24th and 25th goals of the season proved his most priceless as Reading convincingly saw off Cardiff to set up a Wembley date with Swansea in the npower Championship play-off final.
The Royals won 3-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium for an aggregate win by the same scoreline, with Jobi McAnuff putting the finishing touches to the success after Long had scored twice.
Reading are now 90 minutes away from the Barclays Premier League and an estimated £90m windfall.
“It’s amazing,” said Republic of Ireland striker Long. “It means so much to the fans and everyone at the club. It’s been a long time coming. It wasn’t easy but we did enough on the night. Any goals I can score at Wembley will be more important. It wasn’t one of my best games but I scored two and that’s how it goes.”
Manager Brian McDermott added: “I thought it was a fantastic occasion. We’re going to Wembley and we’re delighted.”
Reading were languishing in mid-table with little more than two months of the season left, but embarked on an eight-game winning run to power into the top six.
“We kept winning, we won eight on the trot and I always had faith. We live in the now and today is a fantastic occasion,” said McDermott.
CARDIFF: Bywater, McNaughton, Keinan, Samuel (Matthews 68), Blake, Whittingham, Burke, Olofinjana, Emmanuel-Thomas (Koumas 60), Chopra (Parkin 64), Bothroyd.
READING: Federici, Griffin, Mills, Khizanishvili, Harte, Karacan (Tabb 90), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Cummings, Long (Church 87), Hunt.
Referee: Howard Webb.
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