That moment alone merited their last minute equaliser from the spot by Gylfi Sigurdsson, after Yossi Benayoun was adjudged (perhaps slightly harshly) to have challenged Shane Long unfairly. To their immense credit, Reading came out fighting again in extra time, not simply sitting back for a penalty shoot out. In the last 50 minutes of the match they played with commitment and, sometimes, verve. Liverpool, meanwhile, looked a pale imitation of themselves, especially when bereft of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Reading's winner from Shane Long's close range header was well-worked and well-taken. From then on it was a tense scrap to the finishing line. In summary, a fantastic victory for the lower league club.
Liverpool look disconsolate at the end: out of the two cup competitions, out of the Champions League, out of the Premier League title race... and probably struggling to beat Manchester City to that crucial fourth CL qualifying place too. There will be those baying for Rafa Benitez's head tomorrow, though Reds fans are generally more level headed than many. But the problems on the pitch mirror much deeper seated difficulties in the boardroom, arising from the debt loaded onto the club by its absent owners. Picking up the pieces is going to be very difficult. And the idea that another manager can wave a magic wand at this stage of the season is deluded. That doesn't mean it won't happen, of course. This is football.