Simon Church is congratulated on his first-half opener for Reading.
By Paul Fletcher
BBC Sport at Madejski Stadium
Championship strugglers Reading deservedly forced a replay against Liverpool after an entertaining and finely balanced FA Cup third-round tie at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading have won only five of their 24 Championship fixtures and are 20th in the table after a disappointing season that saw them recently part company with manager Brendan Rodgers.
But the Royals, thrashed 4-1 at Plymouth on Monday, had spells when they were the superior side against a Liverpool team determined to prosper in the competition after their elimination from the Champions League and travails in the Premier League.
Simon Church, an academy graduate at Reading, put the home side in front with a close-range finish after 24 minutes before Steven Gerrard equalised for Liverpool 12 minutes later.
Rafael Benitez's team were at times disjointed and showed little sign of the sort of form that had seen them win their last two top-flight games without conceding.
They dominated between equalising and the half-time whistle, but Reading responded after the break and arguably looked the more likely to score the winner, although Fernando Torres headed narrowly over in the final minutes after substitute keeper Ben Hamer failed to collect a cross.
There were few clear openings at either end before the home side took the lead but there was no doubt that they deserved their goal after an opening period in which they had slowly but definitely wrestled the initiative.
The Royals had a decent penalty shout turned down after Martin Skrtel appeared to tug the impressive Gylfi Sigurdsson's shirt.
Jem Karacan then headed the ball into the Liverpool net after an unconvincing punched clearance from Pepe Reina but two Reading players were clearly in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.
However, reward for Reading's bright opening came when Grzegorz Rasiak superbly guided an overhit free-kick from Ryan Bertrand back into the six-yard box, where Church was on hand to stab home from two yards.
Liverpool had looked uncertain in defence and failed to produce the quality of final ball that some excellent forward movement deserved, but they were not behind for long.
Torres headed wide from eight yards after losing his marker but shortly afterwards keeper Adam Federici was caught flat-footed after Dirk Kuyt failed to connect with a curling Gerrard cross that bounced into the far corner of the Reading goal.
The equaliser appeared to encourage Liverpool as much as it deflated Reading, with Federici making a one-handed save from Torres and an unmarked Fabio Aurelio drilling a low strike wide as an increasingly ragged Royals defence managed to reach the break on level terms.
Torres shot narrowly over and Sigurdsson forced a parried save with a rasping effort as an increasingly engrossing cup tie continued to unfold after the break.
David Ngog broke down the right but failed to find Torres with his disappointing low cross, while Church delivered a teasing low ball across the face of the Liverpool goal.
Benitez brought on Alberto Aquilani as he looked for his team to prise a decisive second, while Reading lost keeper Federici to injury with Hamer replacing him.
The two new arrivals were involved when the ball struck Liverpool's expensive Italian at the far post and then bounced into the hands of Hamer on the line. However, referee Martin Atkinson had seen an infringement so the goal would not have stood even if the ball had eluded the Royals' keeper.
There was little to choose between the teams and it would have been harsh if Torres had snatched a late winner. Instead the two teams will contest a replay at Anfield on 12 January.
Reading caretaker manager Brian McDermott: "It was terrific. I thought we were full value for the replay and we might even have nicked the game.
"But to get another game at Anfield, we're absolutely delighted with that, especially for those 1,500 supporters who travelled to Plymouth when we didn't perform the other day.
"People said there was no pressure on us today but there is always pressure.
"The last thing we want to be is embarrassed in a game of football. A side like Liverpool can embarrass you if you are not careful."
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez: "They were pushing and working very hard from the beginning until the end so we had to do our job.
"It was a difficult game and the most positive thing is that we will play another game at Anfield.
"We know that we have two clear chances to win trophies - the Europa League and the FA Cup - so we will try our best in both and keep improving in the league."
90:00+4:43 The final whistle goes and the game is over.
90:00+4:13 Yossi Benayoun takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Shane Long makes a clearance.
90:00+2:54 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Brian Howard from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Fernando Torres.
90:00+1:47 Yossi Benayoun crosses the ball, Close range header by Fernando Torres goes over the bar.
89:57 The free kick is delivered right-footed by Steven Gerrard from left wing, save made by Ben Hamer.
89:57 Booking The referee shows Matthew Mills a yellow card.
89:52 Matthew Mills challenges Fernando Torres unfairly and gives away a free kick.
88:18 Corner from left by-line crossed in by Gylfi Sigurdsson, save by Jose Reina.
87:13 Centre by Gylfi Sigurdsson, save by Jose Reina.
86:01 Leiva Lucas concedes a free kick for a foul on Jem Karacan. Matthew Mills takes the free kick.
85:09 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Fernando Torres by Ivar Ingimarsson. Direct free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.
84:42 Brian Howard fouled by Alberto Aquilani, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Brian Howard.
83:35 The ball is sent over by Dirk Kuyt, clearance made by Matthew Mills.
78:56 Substitution Yossi Benayoun comes on in place of Fabio Aurelio.
76:50 Substitution Grzegorz Rasiak leaves the field to be replaced by Shane Long.
Correction - 76:30 Centre by Brynjar Gunnarsson.
76:30 The ball is delivered by Brynjar Gunnarsson.
76:25 The ball is sent over by Jobi McAnuff, clearance by Jamie Carragher.
75:14 Corner taken right-footed by Steven Gerrard, free kick awarded for a foul by Dirk Kuyt on Ben Hamer. Free kick taken by Ben
74:55 The ball is crossed by Fernando Torres, clearance made by Matthew Mills.
74:24 Foul by Jem Karacan on Alberto Aquilani, free kick awarded. Jose Reina takes the direct free kick.
73:36 The ball is swung over by Brynjar Gunnarsson, Stephen Darby makes a clearance.
73:02 Substitution Brian Howard comes on in place of Kalifa Cisse.
72:50 Jobi McAnuff produces a cross, Fabio Aurelio manages to make a clearance.
72:31 Ryan Bertrand delivers the ball, save by Jose Reina.
71:55 Foul by Alberto Aquilani on Kalifa Cisse, free kick awarded. Matthew Mills takes the direct free kick.
70:26 The referee gives a free kick against Grzegorz Rasiak for handball. Alberto Aquilani takes the free kick.
69:38 The ball is crossed by Steven Gerrard, Ryan Bertrand makes a clearance.
69:20 The ball is swung over by Steven Gerrard, clearance made by Kalifa Cisse.
68:03 Substitution Ben Hamer on for Adam Federici.
67:20 Substitution Alberto Aquilani on for David Ngog.
66:05 The ball is crossed by Stephen Darby.
65:17 The ball is swung over by Fernando Torres, Brynjar Gunnarsson makes a clearance.
63:52 Centre by Simon Church.
62:18 David Ngog delivers the ball, Brynjar Gunnarsson makes a clearance.
61:38 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jem Karacan by Emiliano Insua. Matthew Mills takes the free kick.
60:30 Foul by David Ngog on Kalifa Cisse, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Ivar Ingimarsson.
59:38 The ball is sent over by Jobi McAnuff, Stephen Darby makes a clearance.
55:27 The referee blows for offside against Fernando Torres. Indirect free kick taken by Ivar Ingimarsson.
54:07 Gylfi Sigurdsson takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.
51:01 Shot from just outside the box by Fernando Torres goes over the crossbar.
50:34 The ball is crossed by Simon Church, save by Jose Reina.
45:14 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Ngog by Kalifa Cisse. Steven Gerrard restarts play with the free kick.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:00+2:15 The half-time whistle blows.
45:00+0:47 Matthew Mills challenges Fernando Torres unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Steven
Gerrard from left wing, Ivar Ingimarsson makes a clearance.
45:00+0:07 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Grzegorz Rasiak by Martin Skrtel. Adam Federici takes the direct free kick.
43:35 Effort from the edge of the area by Fabio Aurelio goes wide of the right-hand post.
42:29 Fernando Torres takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.
40:50 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dirk Kuyt on Ryan Bertrand. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jamie
Carragher manages to make a clearance.
39:29 Corner taken right-footed by Gylfi Sigurdsson from the left by-line, save by Jose Reina.
38:40 The ball is delivered by Grzegorz Rasiak, clearance by Martin Skrtel.
37:32 The ball is swung over by Dirk Kuyt, Kalifa Cisse manages to make a clearance. Effort on goal by Steven Gerrard from outside
the box goes harmlessly over the bar.
35:22 The assist for the goal came from Emiliano Insua.
35:22 GOAL - Steven Gerrard:Reading 1 - 1 Liverpool Steven Gerrard gets on the score sheet with a goal from a long way out to the bottom right corner of the goal. Reading 1-1
33:37 Simon Church fouled by Martin Skrtel, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Gylfi Sigurdsson from
31:54 Centre by Ryan Bertrand, Emiliano Insua manages to make a clearance.
30:57 A cross is delivered by Dirk Kuyt, Headed effort from inside the penalty area by Fernando Torres misses to the right of the
29:43 The referee blows for offside against Fernando Torres. Indirect free kick taken by Adam Federici.
27:21 Ryan Bertrand takes a inswinging corner to the near post, save made by Jose Reina.
25:48 Centre by Emiliano Insua, clearance made by Ivar Ingimarsson.
24:27 Leiva Lucas gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gylfi Sigurdsson. Matthew Mills restarts play with the free
23:17 Assist by Grzegorz Rasiak.
23:17 GOAL - Simon Church:Reading 1 - 0 Liverpool Simon Church grabs a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Reading 1-0 Liverpool.
22:35 A cross is delivered by Ryan Bertrand,
22:35 Booking Emiliano Insua shown a yellow card.
22:29 Jobi McAnuff fouled by Emiliano Insua, the ref awards a free kick.
21:37 Centre by Ryan Bertrand, Leiva Lucas manages to make a clearance.
20:14 The ball is sent over by Dirk Kuyt, Effort from the edge of the area by David Ngog goes wide of the right-hand post.
19:47 Jobi McAnuff delivers the ball, Stephen Darby manages to make a clearance.
18:16 Leiva Lucas concedes a free kick for a foul on Kalifa Cisse. Matthew Mills restarts play with the free kick.
17:54 The ball is swung over by Stephen Darby, Brynjar Gunnarsson manages to make a clearance.
17:34 Steven Gerrard decides to take the corner short, The ball is swung over by Leiva Lucas, clearance by Kalifa Cisse.
16:40 Adam Federici is adjudged to have handled the ball. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Steven Gerrard.
14:38 Corner taken by Gylfi Sigurdsson from the right by-line, Matthew Mills takes a shot. Clearance made by Jamie Carragher.
13:16 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ryan Bertrand by Dirk Kuyt. Gylfi Sigurdsson delivers the ball from the free
kick right-footed from left wing, save by Jose Reina. Grzegorz Rasiak is caught offside. Jose Reina takes the free kick.
10:48 Centre by Jobi McAnuff.
9:49 Jobi McAnuff produces a cross, Dirk Kuyt makes a clearance.
7:52 Stephen Darby gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gylfi Sigurdsson. Ryan Bertrand restarts play with the free
6:36 Unfair challenge on Ryan Bertrand by David Ngog results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Bertrand.
6:02 A cross is delivered by Fabio Aurelio.
1:45 Free kick awarded for a foul by David Ngog on Jem Karacan. Ivar Ingimarsson restarts play with the free kick.
0:26 Grzegorz Rasiak gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Leiva Lucas. Free kick taken by Jamie Carragher.
0:00 The referee gets the game started.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.