LEEDS United fell to a first defeat in eight games as Yann Kermorgant’s first-half effort gave Championship rivals Reading a 1-0 victory at the Madejski.
After a bright start by Leeds, Reading scored the only goal of the game in the 21st minute when Kermorgant capitalised on soft defending from a Royals throw and thumped a powerful effort from 20 yards past Rob Green.
The defeat saw Leeds drop to fifth as Reading moved fourth with United now only five points clear of sixth-placed Fulham and six points clear of seventh-placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Reading created the game’s first chance after seven minutes when Pablo Hernandez lost the ball to Roy Beerens who fed John Swift who fired over the bar.
But Leeds then squandered a similarly good chance four minutes later when Reading ‘keeper Ali Al Habsi misjudged a Hernandez free-kick and Kyle Bartley put a free header from a tight angle into the side netting.
Reading looked shaky at the back and in the 18th minute a cutback from Charlie Taylor eventually fell to Alfonso Pedraza who sliced the ball wide from 20 yards.
But it was Reading who drew first blood in the 21st minute when Leeds failed to deal with a Royals throw which Charlie Taylor headed out to Kermorgant who thumped a powerful effort past Green which came off the ‘keeper’s diving hands and into the roof of the net.
Leeds immediately had a chance to hit straight back five minutes later but Pedraza was unable to steer a low cross from Sacko past Al Habsi, under pressure from Chris Gunter from close range.
But Reading then squandered two brilliant chances to double their lead with Swift first firing over the bar from the edge of the box after a lovely Royals move caught Leeds napping.
Swift then released Garath McCleary just one minute later and McCleary raced in against Green one on one but Green smothered the ball before clearing his lines.
But Leeds then squandered a golden chance themselves just another minute later when Pedraza whipped in a fine cross which reached Hernandez who could only slide the ball wide from close range.
But Reading ended the half by again going agonisingly close to doubling their lead when a long free-kick dropped to Kermorgant on the edge of the box and the striker’s low shot beat Green but hit the outside of the post.
Kermorgant also had the first attempt of the second half as his 52nd-minute back-heeled effort as deflected wide.
Reading’s Swift was then booked for taking down Wood as Leeds countered.
And the Royals then squandered a glorious chance three minutes later when a casual Ronaldo Vieira was robbed in possession and the ball was played by Kermorgant into Beerens who fluffed his lines against Green from close range.
Leeds hit back with a decent low effort from Hernandez which forced Al Habsi into a save and Liam Cooper then put an overhead kick over the bar from a Hernandez corner.
Whites head coach Garry Monk then hauled off Sacko for Souleymane Doukara with 30 minutes left.
Leeds improved and Gaetano Berardi and then Hernandez saw dangerous crosses cleared, after which Monk brought on Kalvin Phillips for Pedraza.
But Reading continued to threaten as well and Green was forced to tip a header from Royals sub Lewis Grabban over the bar.
United’s Cooper was then lucky to survive what looked like a stamp on Reading sub Reece Oxford.
With time running out, Leeds attempted to up the ante and a long shot from Doukara slipped through the hands of Al Habsi who was relieved to the see ball trickle behind for a corner.
Viera then failed to find any power with his effort from inside the box.
A final Leeds sub saw Kemar Roofe replace Vieira with two minutes left and United were then handed six minutes of stoppage time to salvage a draw.
But Reading held firm to jump above Leeds who the Royals may well face again in the Championship play-offs.
Leeds United: Green, Berardi, Bartley, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt (c), Vieira (Roofe 88), Sacko (Doukara 60), Hernandez, Pedraza (Phillips 67), Wood. Subs not used: Silvestri, O’Kane, Barrow, Dallas.
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter (c), Obita (Oxford 70), Moore, Blackett, Kelly (Mutch 67), Swift, Williams, Beerens (Grabban 60), McCleary, Kermorgant. Subs not used: Legg, Meite, Popa, Watson.
Referee: Keith Stroud.
Attendance: 23,055 (3,546 Leeds).