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 striker's brace denied the chance of a south-Wales showdown on 30 May and instead means Swans manager Brendan Rodgers will come up against the club he represented as a player, youth-team coach and then manager for a six-month spell in 2009.
After a tight goalless semi-final first leg last Friday, a touch of class or a defensive gaffe was always likely to separate the two sides - and unfortunately for Cardiff it was the latter on both occasions in the first half. A disastrous sequence of events presented the first to Long who converted his lobbed finish with aplomb, before Bluebirds centre-back Dekel Keinan foolishly tugged back Royals skipper Matt Mills to present the Irishman with his second from the penalty spot. It was left for Jobi McAnuff to wrap matters up late on.
Reading are now 90 minutes away from the Barclays Premier League but the 49-year wait continues for Cardiff.
Cardiff: Bywater, McNaughton, Keinan, Samuel, Blake, Whittingham, Burke, Olofinjana, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra, Bothroyd. Subs: Heaton, Naylor, Rae, Hudson, Parkin, Koumas, Matthews
Reading: Federici, Griffin, Mills, Khizanishvili, Harte, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Cummings, Long, Hunt. Subs: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Tabb, Church, Howard, Pearce, Manset