READING stood strong to see off Norwich City and condemn the Canaries to a 2-1 defeat at the Madejski Stadium.
After an even opening to the game Hal Robson-Kanu converted from the penalty spot for the Royals before Simon Cox fired home to give them a two-goal cushion at half-time.
Neil Adams rung the changes at the break but after Bradley Johnson's thunderbolt offered hopes of a reprieve, Reading finished strongly to take the three points.
The result ends Norwich's unbeaten run and leaves them out of the Sky Bet Championship play-off places heading into 2015.
The match came just 48 hours after City's 6-1 thumping of Millwall but Adams opted to make only two changes, one of them forced, before kick-off.
The calf injury suffered by Carlos Cuellar in that game forced him out, with Ryan Bennett making his first appearance since the East Anglian derby against Ipswich Town in August.
Alex Tettey returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Nathan Redmond, who dropped to the substitutes' bench.
Jake Cooper scored twice when Reading beat City at Carrow Road less than a month ago, but he was on the bench with captain and ex-Canaries loanee Alex Pearce in defence.
Norwich's confidence levels showed in the opening exchanges - Gary Hooper fired over after just two minutes and they were the more progressive team.
As in the last meeting between the two teams, Reading's main threat came from set-pieces and after Glenn Murray stung John Ruddy's gloves with a shot, a corner led to their first goal against the run of play.
Johnson was adjudged to have tugged at Michael Hector in the box from Oliver Norwood's, and the referee pointed to the spot before booking Johnson.
Robson-Kanu calmly converted the penalty to give the Royals what was at that point an unmerited lead on the basis of the general sway of the match.
It buoyed both the home players and crowd however, and after Cameron Jerome poked an effort wide up the other end, Cox doubled their lead on 34 minutes.
His strike partner Murray provided the cross from the right, and Cox was left unmarked at the far post to take a touch and fire at goal, with the ball finding the net via Ruddy's hand.
City's attacking endeavours were blunted for the remainder of the half, leaving them much to do after the break.
HALF-TIME: Reading 2-0 Norwich City
Redmond and Wes Hoolahan were introduced for the second half by Adams, yet it was Jonny Howson who had their first chance four minutes in, flashing a shot across goal after Hooper's hold-up play.
They were pressing Reading high up the pitch and showing the intent to get back in the game but with half an hour to go, they hadn't notched that crucial first goal.
Lewis Grabban came on for Jerome but it was Reading who had two half chances to extend their lead through Jordan Obita and Murray.
On 71 minutes, however, City hauled themselves back into the game in controversial circumstances.
After McCleary received some treatment, Steve Clarke was waiting to make two changes, but even though there was a stoppage the referee refused the change and from the attack, Johnson fired home.
The midfielder danced between two defenders before rifling the ball into the top corner, his third goal of the festive weekend after his brace against Millwall.
Suddenly the Canaries looked more dangerous but they didn't capitalise immediately and Reading stemmed the flow.
In the final ten minutes, they restricted their visitors effectively and saw out the game, with Adam Federici's save from Hoolahan in the last minute of stoppage time the closest Adams' men came to a leveller.
FULL-TIME: Reading 2-1 Norwich City
GOALS: Royals: Hal Robson-Kanu (pen 25), Simon Cox (34) - Canaries: Bradley Johnson (71)
READING: Federici, Gunter, Obita, Pearce (c), Hector, Williams, Norwood, McCleary (Guthrie 72), Robson-Kanu, Cox (Mackie 72), Murray (Blackman 90). Subs not used: Andersen (GK), Cummings, Kelly, Cooper.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bennett, Olsson; Howson, O'Neil (Hoolahan 45), Tettey (Redmond 45), Johnson; Hooper, Jerome (Grabban 64). Subs not used: Rudd (GK), Turner, Lafferty, Miquel.
REFEREE: Mr J Linnington
ATTENDANCE: 19,430 (2,311)