Bournemouth’s Championship promotion hopes suffered a setback as they lost 3-1 at fellow play-off contenders Reading.
Bournemouth trailed 3-0 at half-time after a stunning display of finishing from Reading, who scored through Josh Laurent, Tom McIntyre and top scorer Lucas Joao.
Junior Stanislas reduced the deficit in the 85th minute but Bournemouth fell to their third successive league defeat.
Bournemouth had endured a poor run of form, winning only once in their past six league outings, but did defeat League Two Crawley 2-1 at home in their delayed FA Cup fourth-round tie on Tuesday. Reading, the Championship’s early-season pacesetters, were unbeaten in five league games.
With Jack Wilshere returning to the substitutes’ bench, Bournemouth still made a promising opening – mostly through the efforts of Arnaud Danjuma. When the Netherlands winger let fly from 20 yards, home goalkeeper Rafael moved swiftly to repel the shot.
Reading gradually made an impression going forward and should have perhaps gone ahead when Joao latched on to a weak backpass from Lewis Cook, which had fallen short of keeper Asmir Begovic, and cut in from the left. Instead of shooting from a tight angle, Joao slipped the ball inside to John Swift who scuffed his shot wastefully wide.
However, Reading were rewarded for their endeavours with two goals in a seven-minute spell.
First, in the 24th minute, Bournemouth failed to clear their area from a Michael Olise cross, McIntyre’s effort was blocked and Laurent slotted in from the rebound.
Begovic then failed to hold an Olise free-kick and McIntyre pounced on the loose ball to rifle home from close range.
To make matters worse for the visitors, they fell further behind in the 43rd minute.
Ovie Ejaria found Joao in the Bournemouth box and he turned superbly to lash in his 18th goal of the season.
Reading had been 2-0 up at the break when the sides met at the Vitality Stadium in November but the Cherries came back to win 4-2. Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall may have had that in mind when he brought on three substitutes, including Wilshere, for the second period.
It made a difference, with Bournemouth more lively up front and Lewis Cook driving narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Reading sat back, not surprisingly, as the visitors began to dominate.
But Rafael excelled, making fine diving stops to keep out goalbound attempts from Philip Billing and Steve Cook.
However, the Brazilian could do nothing about the sweetly struck free-kick from substitute Stanislas near the end.