Pablo Hernandez's moment of magic helps Leeds United earn crucial 1-0 win over Reading

A MOMENT of magic from midfield veteran Pablo Hernandez helped Leeds United record back-to-back wins for the first time since December with a 1-0 victory over Reading at Elland Road.

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It is the first time the Whites have won consecutive games since a run of seven victories in November and December.

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Leeds wasted a clutch of good opportunities to take the lead in the first half but Hernandez's brilliant innovation just before the hour proved key.

Leeds United's Gjanni Alioski has a shot at goal. PIC: Simon Hulme.

Helder Costa back-heeled the ball into the path of the Spaniard who saw his initial shot blocked before latching onto the loose ball and weaving through the defence and firing into the roof of the net.

Stuttering form in 2020 has threatened to derail Leeds' promotion bid but three games without defeat has now re-opened the gap between them and the chasing pack.

United have occupied one of the two automatic places since the end of November and have a cushion of five points after Fulham, Brentford and Nottingham Forest all failed to win.

Only two weeks ago the Whites' advantage had been reduced to just goal difference but three points against Reading highlight how a run of consistent results will ease the nerves around Elland Road.

Kalvin Phillips was forced off with injury in the first half. PIC: Simon Hulme.

The visitors came into the game on the back of a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday but had failed to win in seven of their last eight outings.

Leeds had the first big opportunity of the contest when Costa got past his marker and drove into the box but put his low curling effort wide of the far post.

Reading were not content to sit back and defend, looking to get forward at pace when breaking down United's attacks.

Their decision making in the final third let them down with Kiko Casilla forced into only one save in the opening 45 minutes.

Pablo Hernandez scores the winning goal for Leeds United against Reading. PIC: Simon Hulme.

The Royals' failure to find the net means they have not scored in their last four meeting with Leeds, as the hosts kept back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in 13 games.

Kalvin Phillips was forced off with injury in the closing stages of the first half and was replaced by Gjanni Alioski.

Ben White moved into defensive midfield while Luke Ayling shifted into centre back with Stuart Dallas switching to right back and Alioski playing at left back.

The hosts began to get more joy down the left flank following Alioski's introduction but spurned several chances to take the lead.

Hernandez fired a shot from the edge of the area high and wide before a cut-back to Costa was superbly blocked by Reading captain Liam Moore at the expense of a corner.

Luke Ayling blazed a shot over the crossbar before Harrison's clever pass put Alioski in behind but his shot was straight at Rafael Cabral in the Reading goal.

Hernandez's goal came after a spell of Leeds pressure as Reading troubled the hosts little in the second 45, until the final seconds when Casilla made a vital stop from Moore's shot before Luke Ayling blocked the follow up as Elland Road let out a collective sigh of relief.

Leeds United: Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips (Alioski 37); Klich, Harrison, Costa, Hernandez (Shackleton 85); Bamford. Unused substitutes: Meslier, Casey, Douglas, Roberts, Augustin.

Reading: Rafael; Yiadom, Moore, Morrison, Richards; Pele, Rinomhota; Swift (Adam 75), Olise, Meite; Puscas. Unused substitutes: Walker, Obita, Baldock, Araruna, Osho, Blackett.

Referee: J Gillett (Australia).