Manchester United established a three-point lead at the head of the Barclays Premier League table after edging a seven-goal thriller against Reading at Madejski Stadium.
All the game’s talking points were confined to a faintly ludicrous first period as United trailed, levelled, led, trailed, levelled and then led decisively going into the interval.
Hal Robson-Kanu lashed home the opener, then Anderson cracked in an equaliser and Wayne Rooney slid home a penalty before Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison quickly headed in from corners to have the hosts 3-2 up by 23 minutes.
For all the nightmarish defending on show from the visitors, however, their attacking play was just as irresistible, and Rooney clinically turned in Patrice Evra’s cross to level again, before turning provider for Robin van Persie to spring the hosts’ offside trap and beat Adam Federici.
Van Persie missed two presentable chances to tie up the victory after the break, and instead United had to survive a tense second period which frayed nerves in an altogether more subtle manner than the first.
United were dealt an unexpected boost ahead of kick-off as Manchester City were held to a home draw by Everton, giving the Reds a chance to build a points cushion ahead of next weekend’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.
Perhaps with one eye on the looming cross-city trip and following midweek toil against Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United, Sir Alex Ferguson made