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Report: Tough Toffees win

2 March 2013

Everton seal the points

Everton 3 (Fellaini 42, Pienaar 59, Mirallas 66) 
Reading 1 (Robson-Kanu 83)

The Royals were consigned to a 3-1 defeat to Everton away at Goodison Park.

It was a valiant first half performance from Brian McDermott's men, but Marouane Fellaini's header just before half time put the hosts ahead.

Everton capitalised on their early second half dominance - a fabulous Steven Pienaar strike was followed up by a calm finish from Kevin Mirallas.

Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu headed one back for the Royals late on - the least we deserved - but Everton comfortably held out for the three points.

Royals: Taylor; Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte; McAnuff, Akpan, Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 18); Hunt (Blackman 75), Le Fondre.

Subs not used: Henly, Gunter, Morrison, McCleary, Karacan.

Bookings: Adam Le Fondre

Everton: Mucha, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka (Heitinga 5), Distin, Mirallas, Pienaar (Hitzlsperger 82), Gibson, Osman (Anichebe 74), Fellaini, Jelavic.

Subs not used: Springthorpe, Oviedo, Naismith, Neville, Anichebe.

Bookings: Coleman

Att: 35,244

Four changes were made to the Royals starting line-up, as experienced goalkeeper Stuart Taylor came in for the injured Adam Federici. Alex Pearce replaced Sean Morrison in defence, while Brian McDermott opted for Noel Hunt and Adam Le Fondre up front following Pavel Pogrebnyak's suspension.

In the opening stages at sun-baked but chilly Goodison Park, Reading were thankful that Nikicia Jelavic's header was totally misjudged close to our goal, before Jobi McAnuff burst through into Everton's box from the left, but couldn't quite make a delivery.

Stephen Kelly made an excellent challenge before heading away the ensuing corner - as the Royals survived an early spell of Toffees pressure.

Ian Harte launched a typical curling free-kick towards the back of the net - but it lacked the required power to beat Everton's deputising goalkeeper Jan Mucha. Kebe then found himself in a fantastic position on goal, but then stopped in his tracks as he pulled an injury. Hal Robson-Kanu replaced the winger.

The Royals then went agonisingly close to an opener. In the aftermath of a corner, Mikele Leigertwood had a fierce effort well blocked before Adam Le Fondre smashed the rebound against the woodwork during a lively spell of dominance.

But it was our goalmouth that soon lived a charmed life. First, Steven Pienaar scuffed an effort onto the frame of Adrian Mariappa - before Taylor got something in the way of Jelavic's effort - with the striker through on goal.

Taylor was called into action again just minutes later - Kevin Mirallas raced forwards and unleashed a long range strike, but the debutant shot-stopper parried it away.

Defender Alex Pearce was causing mayhem in Everton's box from a set-piece, and was then presented with a chance with a volley on his weaker left foot, but skied over the bar.

Moments before half time, Everton delivered their suckerpunch. Seamus Coleman scuttled down the right and crossed an inch-perfect ball in for the towering Marouane Fellaini - who headed past the helpless Taylor.

Taylor had to be on his guard just before the break when Fellaini attempted an audacious strike just yards from the touchline - but the Reading 'keeper did well to tip the impressive volley over.

Half time

Before the Royals could settle into the second half, they had to contend with a dangerous goal-mouth scrambe - that was after Taylor denied Mirallas on goal from a tight angle.

Fellaini headed over, moments before Pienaar got Everton's crucial second goal in stunning style. Galloping down the left, the pacy midfielder cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable rocket in the top corner to make it two.

Mirallas had the Toffees faithful on their feet once again just minutes later - but his cross-shot narrowly missed the goal and path of the alert Fellaini.

The vocal Royals supporters, tucked away in one corner of the ground, were screaming for a penalty moments later when Le Fondre's pass to the perfectly-placed Hunt was halted by the hand of Sylvain Distin.

And just after Robson-Kanu tested Mucha, the decision to turn down the penalty claim proved to be the pivotal moment in the game - as Mirallas accelerated forward on Reading's goal and coolly placed past Taylor to seal the game.

The hard done-by Royals were determined to reduce the deficit - and went close on a number of occasions. McAnuff called Mucha into action with a strike before our skipper skilfully dropped a shoulder and let fire - this time it was just over the bar.

With just left less than ten minutes to go, Reading notched the goal they undoubtedly deserved. Pushing forward, Harte ran down the left and picked out Robson-Kanu - who was unchallenged and able to head home.

It was the least we merited from a tough afternoon that unfortunately belonged to Everton - as David Moyes' men professionally held out for all three points.

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