Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Toffees maintain Euro hunt

Marouane Fellaini, right, Steven Pienaar, left, and Kevin Mirallas, second left, netted a goal apiece in Everton's victory over Reading

Everton kept themselves in the Champions League qualification picture with an ultimately convincing 3-1 win over struggling Reading at Goodison Park.

Marouane Fellaini headed the Toffees ahead with his 12th goal of the season late in an evenly-fought first-half, in which Reading hit the woodwork, and the Merseysiders eased to victory after the break.

Steven Pienaar, with a stunning long-range strike, and Kevin Mirallas made sure of the three Barclays Premier League points before Hal Robson-Kanu grabbed a consolation.

Nikica Jelavic spurned an opportunity to test Reading goalkeeper Stuart Taylor when he headed well wide inside the first minute but it signalled the start of an entertaining opening period in which both sides had good spells.

Reading went on the attack and Everton were relieved when an unmarked Adam Le Fondre screwed a shot against the top of the post from a corner when he should have found the target.

The Royals cracked three minutes before the interval, Seamus Coleman finding space on the right before delivering a perfect cross for Fellaini to rise and head home with trademark power from six yards.

Everton doubled their advantage just before the hour when Pienaar took a pass from Fellaini and set off on a run towards goal. The South African cut inside two defenders on the edge of the box and unleashed a ferocious strike into the top corner which gave Taylor no chance.

Everton were not finished there and the third goal was not long in coming and Mirallas showed great composure to clip past Taylor after exchanging passes with Pienaar to race through on goal.

To their credit, Reading battled on, even if only to reduce the damage to their goal difference column.

Everton goalkeeper Jan Mucha made a good save from Jobi McAnuff and the visitors did pull one back six minutes from time as Ian Harte crossed from the left and an unmarked Robson-Kanu headed home with conviction.

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