Bournemouth boost play-off hopes
Bournemouth proved their Sky Bet Championship play-off credentials with a devastating attacking display to cut the gap on sixth-placed Reading to just two points.
Man of the match Matt Ritchie set Eddie Howe's free-flowing side on the way to their fifth straight victory with two left-footed strikes within the first 19 minutes to stun a Royals side who can now feel the in-form Cherries breathing down their necks after this 3-1 loss.
Reading had no answer to the home side's fantastic football and it was no surprise when Yann Kermorgant's diving header made it three in first-half added time before Hal Robson-Kanu's impressive consolation from distance with 15 minutes remaining.
The visitors had not even kicked a ball in anger before suffering their first blow on an evening to forget when influential midfielder Danny Guthrie suffered an injury in the warm up and Robson-Kanu was thrown into the starting line-up.
Despite that setback they carved out their best chance of the first half in the third minute when Pavel Pogrebnyak's knock-down found Jordan Obita and his first-time effort was well saved by Lee Camp.
Lewis Grabban, fresh from netting his 20th of the campaign to beat QPR on Saturday, then showed another side to his game as he turned provider for the game's opening goal. Collecting Andrew Surman's clever pass Grabban twisted and turned down the left channel before coolly rolling a pass across the box for Ritchie to rifle home.
Royston Drenthe's low drive, which was comfortable for Camp, raised hopes of a immediate response among the 1,390 travelling supporters. Instead they watched on in horror as Bournemouth took a huge step towards all three points with just 19 minutes on the clock when the same trio who broke the deadlock combined again.
Grabban weaved his way through a sea of blue and white shirts before his shot deflected into the path of Surman. The Norwich loanee teed up Ritchie and the former Swindon winger perfectly placed a low finish into the bottom corner.
Ritchie was searching for a hat-trick and his 30-yard free-kick flew only narrowly wide before Kermorgant's header forced a fine parry from Alex McCarthy. Tommy Elphick was next to try his luck with an overhead kick as Bournemouth continued to camp in the Reading half.
In the 39th minute Bournemouth, once again, carved open their visitors their one-touch football. Kermorgant played a one-two with Grabban on the half-way line and the Cherries' number nine raced clear of the Royals defence, opened up his body and bent his effort across goal and inches wide.
They only had to wait six minutes for the third and it was yet another silky move that created it. Ritchie's searching ball found the overlapping Simon Francis and the right-back stood up a perfect cross from the touchline which Kermorgant stooped to butt home.
Despite being on course for their eighth victory in their last 10 games Bournemouth continued to cut open Reading almost at will.
Marc Pugh's long-range effort flew just wide, Francis' low drive was kept out at his near post by the over-worked McCarthy and Grabban was inches away from the goal his all-action display deserved with a fizzing low shot.
In a game full of eye-catching football even Reading's 75th-minute consolation was spectacular, Wales international Robson-Kanu thumping a left-footed shot across goal and into the bottom corner.