Reading stun Everton at the Madejski
Reading 2 Everton 1
A second-half brace from Adam Le Fondre gave Reading their first Barclays Premier League win of the season at the expense of Everton this afternoon.
David Moyes’ side had lost only one in 20 league games heading into the clash and looked on course to keep their good start to the season on track as Steven Naismith gave them a half-time lead.
But despite dominating the first 45 minutes Everton could not clinch a second goal and a much-improved Reading made them pay as Le Fondre headed an equaliser before firing in a second from the penalty spot as the Royals picked up their maiden league victory in front of a record crowd at the Madejski Stadium.
Everton came close to opening the scoring inside two minutes as a Thomas Hitzlsperger corner was not dealt with and Phil Jagielka forced a smart reaction save from Adam Federici.
But the Toffees took the lead after 10 minutes after some woeful defending by Reading’s back line.
A hopeful ball out of defence was not dealt with by Reading on a number of occasions before Kaspars Gorkss’ back-header fell straight to Nikica Jelavic.
The Croatia forward looped a cross back into the box which was left by both Gorkss and Sean Morrison, with Naismith taking full advantage to slot the visitors in front.
Reading were almost level immediately as Tim Howard rushed out to clear a long ball but was beaten to it by Le Fondre, who could not keep his effort down as Howard scrambled back towards his goal.
More poor Reading defending almost led to a second Everton goal in the 20th minute.
Right-back Chris Gunter was caught dallying in possession by Steven Pienaar, who then ran at the Royals’ defence before firing wide of Federici’s right-hand post.
Everton continued to control proceedings without truly creating any clear-cut chances in their search for a second goal.
They continued to turn the screw and Hitzlsperger, making his full Premier League debut for the Blues, hit one of his trademark rockets from outside the box that stung the palms of Federici.
The Australia international then denied Leon Osman his fourth goal of the season as he blocked the new England international’s close-range effort.
Morrison went some way to redeeming his error-strewn first-half when he blocked a Jelavic effort that seemed destined for the back of the net, although the ball appeared to strike the 21-year-old on the arm with referee Martin Atkinson waving away Everton’s penalty appeals.
As half-time approached Everton continued to be frustrated in their quest to find a killer second goal, as captain Jagielka saw his flicked header cleared off the line by Jay Tabb.
Reading came out for the second half much more positively and forced two corners in the opening four minutes.
Le Fondre’s equaliser came courtesy of a free-kick from Nicky Shorey after Hitzlsperger had caught Tabb on the left side of the Everton box and the former Rotherham striker was picked out superbly to head Reading level with 51 minutes on the clock.
It was Everton’s turn to start looking shaky at the back as Hal Robson-Kanu stole the ball from Seamus Coleman before being upended by Jagielka.
Shorey again picked out Le Fondre with the resulting set-piece but this time the 25-year-old could not keep his header down.
The visitors still looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Hitzlsperger should have done better when he was found by Pienaar, but the German looked to fire across goal rather than test Federici.
But it was Reading who continued to press and Le Fondre should have put Brian McDermott’s side ahead when he was played through by Jason Roberts before scuffing his effort tamely at Howard.
Everton seemed to come back to life with 25 minutes remaining as the game opened up with both sides looking for a winner.
Hitzlsperger saw a snap volley fly just wide before a Reading counter-attack was scuppered thanks to a superb last-ditch challenge from Coleman.
Reading were then awarded a penalty by Atkinson as Coleman bundled into the back of Le Fondre, who brushed himself off to send Howard the wrong way and put the hosts ahead with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
Their lead was nearly wiped out instantly however as Marouane Fellaini headed Leighton Baines’ corner against the post, with the loose ball falling straight to Federici.
Reading then saw the game out in relative comfort to secure what could prove to be a vital three points.
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