"It made for a chess game in the first half, where only Fulham's Sone Aluko had a chance to break the deadlock".
Fulham thrashed Jaap Stam's side 5-0 at Craven Cottage back in December, but the Royals were never likely to roll over as easily this time and fought throughout as if their lives depended on it.
"I'm an optimist, I believe in my players and they believe in themselves and they've shown in the first leg that they play with confidence".
Reading will be hit by the absence of Paul McShane, their central defender and captain, who was shown a straight red card 10 minutes from the end for a high challenge on Fulham's Kevin McDonald, while goalscorer Obita is a doubt after twisting his ankle.
After a first period spent camped in their own half, Reading stunned the hosts when Obita fired them into the lead eight minutes after the interval.
The last 10 games or so we have been playing the style that the gaffer wants, and beating most teams.
"Everyone's excited for the second leg, but there's still a game to play against a very good side, even though you've got home advantage".
The Whites felt hard done by, claiming McShane had fouled Stefan Johansen in the build-up, but there was no denying the quality of the finish.
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It remains to be seen whether Sanchez will still be at Arsenal next season as he has just over a year remaining on his current contract at the club.
"He's been very important for us throughout the season, but he's had injuries as well and other players needed to step up so we can win a game without Paul McShane".
The full back was not closed down quickly enough by Ryan Fredericks and drilled a low, angled drive in off the far post.
"From what I saw today I know we can do it".
However, they could not force a victor and manager Slavisa Jokanovic admitted: "We can't be completely satisfied".
Scott Malone's cross was palmed out by Ali Al Habsi straight to Cairney, who nodded into the empty net for his 13th goal of the season.
"Reading put us in a complicated situation (in the first leg) and we didn't find enough space for our combinations and we didn't move the ball with enough pace".
"One hundred percent we believe we can win, and then go all the way". It will be interesting to see if they can continue their excellent home form on Tuesday night.
The real shame is that their captain, one of their best players this season and one of football's real good guys is going to have to sit out the remainder of the campaign and watch on.