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Veljko Paunovic On Norwich Loss: ‘We Were Punished For Our Mistakes’

League leaders Norwich City ran out 2-1 winners at the Mad Stad after an Andy Rinomhota error in the first half and penalty conceded by Liam Moore in the second.

Reading v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

Veljko Paunovic felt our defeat against Norwich City was a tough one to take, with the Royals’ mistakes costing them. Norwich took the lead after 10 minutes with Emi Buendia taking advantage of a Reading error to put them ahead, but the Royals equalised just minutes later through Michael Olise. Teemu Pukki scored the winner for the Canaries from the penalty spot after Liam Moore was judged to have tripped Max Aarons.

Reading remain fifth, now seven points behind Norwich who sit top. Bournemouth are just four points away in second. Paunovic said the Royals gave it their best but, ultimately, it was their mistakes that cost them the points. After the game, he spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.

Paunovic on the performance

“It was a hard game and we were punished for our mistakes in both halves.

“They were probably the only mistakes we made in our game, but they are an experienced team - they have learned from their mistakes in the past in the Premier League last year. So they knew how to convert their chances and wait for the moments which they could benefit from.

“Although we pushed until the end, they were a better side in waiting for and converting our mistakes. Their approach was very smart, they were very organised and they kept the ball very well. Everyone was devastated after the game, knowing we gave our best but it wasn’t enough today.

“But it is still a learning process for us and we are learning. In the past for example we would have conceded a third goal when we were chasing an equaliser, but it didn’t happen tonight. And I cannot expect anything less nor anything more from the players. The guys gave their all.”

Paunovic on injuries and depth of the squad

“I don’t like to give excuses. But it’s a fact that we have a lot of injuries and less experience than most on the bench. We were very consistent in how we were playing - but now it takes another adjustment. And the injuries are affecting the depth of the squad.

“But you keep looking to the next guy to step up and I believe in every guy who steps on the field. And I’m proud of this group of players - they always give their best and they never give up.

“When you look at what we have achieved at this point in the season, that makes you feel proud and excited. And that’s exactly what I said to our team. You can lose a game, it’s going to happen. But to give your best is a requirement to play for Reading.

“Swift is probably the only one near - he may play with the under-23s first and we’ll look to have him at least for Boxing Day.”

Paunovic on the penalty incident

“I’ve received about 15 messages from friends and family saying ‘hmm’... it’s not clear if it was a penalty. I haven’t had a look but it’s football. If it was or wasn’t a penalty we can’t change it.

“We’ll work on what we can control and will seek for improvement in our game, always. If there is no clarity or consistency in officiating we’ll look for somebody else to fix that, it’s not our job.”

Paunovic on being near the top of table

“We have to look at the positives around us and we have to encourage ourselves with what we have done so far. It wasn’t easy and it’s not going to be. What we’ve achieved and how competitive we are - that makes you feel proud and excited. That’s what I said to the team - you can lose a game, it’s going to happen. But this way you understand you gave your best and that is the requirement to play for Reading.

Paunovic on not playing Baldock

“We wanted to play with a false number nine because we wanted to overcrowd the midfield where they were very strong. It worked well but the weather and field were tough for us so we had a lot of losses in the area because we wanted to play and keep the ball in the middle.

“We changed in the second half but the penalty made us change our approach again. I was very happy with the understanding our our team and the willingness to implement the idea. Behind every line up, formation and game is an idea to make sure we are competitive and try to win games.”