READING outclassed 10-man Bradford in their FA Cup quarter-final replay to set up a Wembley semi-final date with holders Arsenal.
The sides shared a goalless draw in the original tie at Valley Parade but Reading were the better side last night, sealing a comfortable 3-0 win to reach their first semi-final since 1927.
Bradford have made a name for themselves as giantkillers in recent years, and had knocked out two Premier League sides on their way to this season’s last eight, but they could not work their way back into this game and will now return to fighting for promotion from League One.
Bradford struggled to get out of first gea early on, while Reading looked fresh as Steve Clarke made 11 changes from the side that lost 4-1 to Watford in the Championship on Saturday.
Hal Robson-Kanu’s header put the Royals in front with the game’s first chance and the impressive Garath McCleary saw a shot deflected in on nine minutes meaning Bradford would requite another historical evening to seal another trip to Wembley.
Any hope the Bantams had of completing a comeback was made more difficult when former Hibs player Felipe Morais was shown a straight red card for a high foot on Nathaniel Chalobah just after the hour.
And it was Chelsea loanee Chalobah who set-up the third Reading goal which truly put the game beyond doubt as he fed Jamie Mackie – who hammered home a third.
Earlier Scotland internationalist Mackie had charged into the area to win the corner which was whipped in by McCleary and headed in by Robson-Kanu.
James Hanson then headed straight at Adam Federici as Bradford looked to level the tie immediately but they were soon made to pay for starting the game sluggishly. McCleary put the tie firmly in Reading’s hands as he cut inside before hitting a shot that ballooned off of Andy Halliday and looped over Ben Williams.
Bradford famously recovered from 2-0 down to seal a remarkable fourth-round victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but they had Williams to thank for keeping them in the game as he pushed away a speculative Danny Williams drive.
The rest of the first half was a much more even affair, but still Reading created the better openings and McCleary should have done better with a chance before the break but could only fire high and wide.
The first incident of note in the second half came when Morais was dismissed for catching Chalobah with a high foot.
The game was then killed off by Mackie, who timed his run to perfection to latch onto Chalobah’s through ball and thrash an effort past Williams to send Reading into only the second FA Cup semi-final in the club’s 144-year history, with the home fans running on to celebrate on the pitch at full-time.
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