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Reaction: Reading 1 Blues 2

I am really proud of the players.

Aitor Karanka

Head Coach Aitor Karanka was beaming with pride after his team won 2-1 away to Reading.

The victory was the perfect follow up to success at Bristol City and came despite Blues playing the final knockings with ten men.

This came after two Jon Toral goals had given Karanka’s side a half-time lead, only for Reading to pull one back and then be awarded a penalty.

That incident saw Harlee Dean sent off, before Neil Etheridge saved Lucas Joao’s spot kick.

But speaking to the media following the match, Blues’ Head Coach made a point of ensuring it was not only the team’s number one who received praise.

He said: “He is the best keeper in the league, we are really grateful he is here. But [don’t forget] today he had another 18-19 players supporting him.”

Karanka went on in his praise. He identified the team’s spirit and their resilience to keep right on in the face of adversity as Reading possessed a man advantage.

The Spaniard said: “It would have been impossible to create this spirit if we hadn’t built this strong squad. I had been hearing critics, but I said again that I am really calm and confident with these players.

“We were really good because sometimes you get lost in terms of a decision, you lose your head and finish the game with two or three players less, but the players on the pitch were amazing.

Not finished with his admiration, a delighted Karanka was keen to ensure the plaudits were shared throughout the whole squad, whether they were involved on the pitch or not.

He said: We are delighted with the performance. But the main thing is that I am really proud of the players and their spirit. The players who started the game, those who came off the bench and who stayed on the bench and were helping, shouting and trying to support their teammates. Since I arrived here, I wanted to build this spirit and the players deserve credit. They showed why I told the fans to be patient with them.”

Despite his best efforts to share the love, it was hard for Karanka to ignore the standout performance of Toral, who was duly recognised by the 47-year-old.

Karanka said: “I am really pleased for him [Jon Toral] because he started well in the first game of the season against Brentford and then he got injured. Then the last two games he has been brilliant. He is not able to play 90 minutes now, but the 60-70 minutes he is on the pitch he is quality. With him on the pitch everything is better.”

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