By FOX SPORTS staff
A narrow victory over the Royals took Manchester United 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table after rivals Manchester City faltered at the hands of Everton earlier on Saturday.
The Red Devils' decisive strike came courtesy of Rooney 20 minutes into the first period, as the team struggled to add on to their tally despite boasting an attacking line-up of van Persie, Welbeck and Rooney for the entirety of the game.
David De Gea - 6.0
The Spaniard had precious little to do in this game, as the men playing in front of him did an admirable job in keeping a close watch on the Reading attackers. Besides the free kicks and goal-kicks taken by him, De Gea hardly got on the ball.
Chris Smalling - 5.5
Lacking in pace, Smalling was exposed on several occasions by the faster Hal Robson-Kanu and Garath McCleary. The former Fulham man also offered much lesser than usual right back Rafael going forward. Although he did attempt to link up with Giggs on the flank, he left most of the heavy running to the older United player.
Alexander Buttner - 6.0
The Dutchman chose to play it safe while deputizing for Patrice Evra in this one. Staying close to Robson-Kanu and Jem Karacan whenever the duo ventured down his flank, Buttner made himself a nuisance to the Reading attackers, but did little to help Young further the Red Devils' attacking ambitions.
Rio Ferdinand - 7.5
He might not have been the scorer of their winning goal, but Ferdinand was undoubtedly the team's star man. Sweeping forward from defence to assist Rooney for their winner, the Englishman was also a dependable rock in front of De Gea's goal mouth, heading clear everything Reading sent their way.
Nemanja Vidic - 7.0
The Serbian got lucky after he went unpunished for a shove on Adrian Mariappa, but Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to be too unhappy with the shift his skipper put in. Strong in the air and hardly ever tested physically by the Reading attackers, Vidic will step off the United pitch knowing that he did the job asked of him.
Anderson - 5.5
Tasked to replace one of the Red Devils' in-form midfielders, Anderson did his best to link up play from defence to attack. However, the former Porto man lacked the vision and intelligence required to fill Carrick's shoes as he struggled to dictate the pace of the game for his team.
Ryan Giggs - 7.5
For observers who did not know any better, Giggs could have been one of the younger players on the pitch with the way he was bursting past his marker. The Welshman's keen eye for the cross-field ball was also on display as he managed to pick out Ashley Young on more than one occasion in threatening positions.
Ashley Young - 7.0
The Englishman was one of United's more energetic attackers in the first half, taking the ball past Stephen Kelly and drilling good crosses into the danger area. However, it was clear he began to tire in the second period, having much less of an influence on the game.
Danny Welbeck - 6.5
Plying his trade out on the wing for this one, Welbeck did not look out of place. Using his pace and tireless running to his advantage, the Red Devils youth product was always ready to get something going for his team.
Wayne Rooney - 6.5
United fans will undoubtedly be cheering his name into the night after Rooney scored his seventh goal in eight home games, but the former Everton man was on the outskirts for the majority of this match. Questions will continue to be asked of his long-term future at the club until he returns to the influential player he once was.
Robin van Persie - 5.5
Rooney's strike partner also had a quiet night, adding fuel to whispers that van Persie has lost his form. The former Arsenal only really threatened from a set piece midway through the second half, as he struggled to trouble his one-time Gunners team-mate Stuart Taylor.
Michael Carrick - 6.5
His impact was felt almost immediately, as the Red Devils were no longer losing possession sloppily under Reading pressure.
Shinji Kagawa - 6.0
Stuart Taylor - 6.5
The Royals goalkeeper could do little about the strike he conceded, but went on to keep his team in the game. Dashing off his line more than once to deal with crosses and through balls from the Red Devils, Taylor was certainly an important part in keeping the score-line down.
Nicky Shorey - 6.0
As Reading's set-piece taker, Shorey might have felt he could have done better with the few attempts that came his way. The right-back was also guilty of not making use of the space in front of him when the Royals were attempting a reply, choosing the conservative approach of sitting back instead.
Stephen Kelly - 5.0
Turned inside and out by Young, Kelly will want to forget this game as soon as possible. The full-back simply could not keep up with the pace of the United attacker and was made to look like an amateur at times.
Alex Pearce - 5.0
Like Kelly, Pearce will not be shelving this game in his video vault. The defender had to endure the dubious honour of Rooney's effort coming off his heel before it hit the back of Taylor's net and struggled to keep up with the movement of the Red Devils' attackers after.
Adrian Mariappa - 6.0
The Reading central defender had a slightly better shift than Pearce, doing especially well in keeping van Persie quiet. Mariappa was also denied a decent penalty call after he was shoved to the ground by Vidic during a Reading corner.
Jem Karacan - 6.5
A tireless runner for the Royals in midfield, Karacan kept up the defensive pressure on Buttner to prevent him from moving up to support the attack. The Turk also played with purpose when he was on the ball, always looking to get his team-mates involved.
Mikele Leigertwood - 5.5
Shadowing van Persie and Rooney from his position in defensive midfield, Leigertwood managed to frustrate the United attack. However, he struggled slightly when players like Ferdinand and Welbeck ran at him from deep and was lucky that his team were only punished once for it.
Jobi McAnuff - 5.5
The Jamaican tried in vain to lift his team as they threw everything they had at the Red Devils to get an equalizer. However, it was not a display to remember for McAnuff who could have made better use of the ball.
Garath McCleary - 6.0
It was a game of ups and downs for McCleary, tormenting Smalling with his pace and trickery during some instances but putting in bad deliveries when he was given the space. Nonetheless, he looked the most likely out of all the Reading players to make something happen.
Hal Robson-Kanu - 6.0
Tasked to run from deep when attacking the Red Devils defence, Robson-Kanu turned in an admirable shift. He came close to scoring one for the Royals but saw his attempt inch past the post.
Noel Hunt - 5.0
Isolated upfront, Hunt was always going to have an uphill task unlocking the United rear-guard. The Reading striker could have been more intelligent in using his team-mates, but chose to go at it on his own most of the time.
Adam Le Fondre - 5.0
The Royals' super-sub did not come close to altering the complexion of the game, as he hardly got a sniff on De Gea's goal mouth.
Nick Blackman - 5.0
Brought on to add some steel to the Reading attack, Blackman found that he was not up to the task of competing with Ferdinand and Vidic.
Sean Morrison - 6.0