Goals from Sergio Aguero and Eden Dezko were enough to see off a determined Royals side who had goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to thank after the Englishman produced a string of fine saves to keep them in it.
The dismissal of Roberto Mancini didn’t appear to affect the City players as they flew out the blocks, fashioning plenty of early chances, before taking the lead when Sergio Aguero stroked the ball home with half-time approaching.
Although Reading could have snatched an unlikely equaliser when Nick Blackman’s header was cleared off the line, City sealed the win late on when David Silva found substitute Eden Dzeko inside the area who skipped past one challenge before poking past McCarthy.
The speculation surrounding Mancini’s future was finally concluded late on Monday night with the club dismissing him following a difficult season without silverware.
City’s preparations for the match were hardly aided by the announcement just before kick-off that David Platt was also leaving his post as assistant manager, but it didn’t stop them starting quickly and creating a flurry of early chances.
First Aguero picked the ball up inside the area and sent in a shot which McCarthy did well to stop before the Reading stopper produced a fine close range save from Milner with Aguero seeing his follow up effort blocked.
An innocuous injury to Kolo Toure appeared to disrupt City’s rhythm as Reading started to settle and carve out a few opportunities of their own with Hal Robson-Kanu and Garath McCleary forcing Hart into low saves to his right.
City then fashioned a couple of chances when Yaya Toure’s attempted shot was fluffed straight to Tevez inside the area but the Argentinean was thwarted by a McCarthy smother.
The Reading keeper then produced a wonder save moments later to deny Tevez again, this time leaping in front of the striker’s header, although the flag did belatedly go up for offside.
Just when the Royals thought their first-half job was done, City forced a corner with five minutes left. Milner and Silva exchanged passes on the edge of the penalty area, the former finding Aguero who capped a superb move by passing the ball into the net from 12 yards.
Reading started the second half brightly and almost levelled when Pogrebynak muscled between two City defenders to head at goal but Joe Hart managed to get his body in the way of the ball.
Milner and Silva were linking up superbly in the middle, the two combining again to set up Yaya Toure but the midfielder’s effort was turned round the post by McCarthy.
The home side continued to press, looking a threat whenever they got on the ball, and almost equalised from a late corner when Blackman’s header was hacked off the line by Tevez.
Ultimately it wasn’t to be for Reading as substitute Dzeko sealed the win. The Royals gifted possession to Silva inside their own half, the Spaniard playing a clever pass through to Dzeko and the striker made no mistake as he worked an opening before placing past the helpless McCarthy.
The City fans showed their appreciation for former-boss Mancini throughout the match, bellowing out his name from start to finish, as their side sealed second in the Premier League.
Man of the match - James Milner: Put in a superb performance, assisted the first goal and caused the Reading defence a host of problems.
Player ratings - Reading: McCarthy 8, Gunter 7, Morrison 6, Mariappa 6, Kelly 6, Karacan 6, Guthrie 6, McCleary 6, McAnuff 6, Robson-Kanu 6, Pogrebnyak 6. Subs: Blackman 7, Le Fondre 6.
Man City: Hart 7, Richards 7, Kolo Toure 6, Lescott 6, Clichy 6, Yaya Toure 7, Barry 7, Milner 8, Silva 8, Tevez 7, Aguero 7. Subs: Maicon 6, Garcia 6, Dzeko 7.