Everton 3-1 Reading: Toffees close gap on Arsenal with Pienaar on form
The Toffees keep the pressure on Arsene Wenger's side after great goals from Fellaini, Mirallas and the South African give David Moyes' charges a well-deserved win
By Scott Binnie
Everton maintained their push for European football next season with a resounding win over Reading at Goodison Park.
Three fine strikes from Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas gave the Toffees a deserved 3-1 win after failing to win their previous two in the Premier League.
Everton made two changes to the side that eased past Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup, Jan Mucha replacing Tim Howard in goals and Fellaini coming on for Phil Neville.
Reading meanwhile made three changes with Stuart Taylor, Noel Hunt and Adam Le Fondre replacing Adam Federici, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jem Karacan in the XI beaten 3-0 by Wigan last weekend.
The away side started strongest, with Jimmy Kebe jumping on to an early flick on in to the box but failed to get his shot away. It was to be the lively winger’s only action of the game as he was quickly replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu after over-stretching his hamstring.
And Reading were almost in front after 19 minutes through Le Fondre, the striker rattling the woodwork from just inside the box after a corner.
Everton eventually woke up, cautious of the surprise defeat in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, with Jelavic bustling in behind the defence but the out-of-form striker drove his shot against the legs of Taylor and away for a corner.
Kevin Mirallas very nearly scored one of the goals of the season just after the half-hour mark, bursting forward from the halfway line before firing a right-footed shot from the edge of the area that Taylor somehow managed to save.
The Toffees did not have to wait long for the deserved breakthrough though as Fellaini headed home a great right-wing cross from Seamus Coleman three minutes before the break.
And Pienaar got Everton’s second after 58 minutes, collecting the ball on the halfway line from Fellaini before charging towards the Reading goal. The winger cut inside on his left foot on the edge of the area before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the top left-hand corner to put his side into a commanding lead.
It was almost three for the Toffees a few minutes later when Mirallas’ tremendous close control in the area saw him drill past the far post where Fellaini was running in for a tap in, and a terrific performance from Mirallas deserved a goal and he scored it just minutes later, hooking the ball in at the near post after Pienaar’s through-ball.
Jobi McAnuff had Mucha sprawling at the left-hand post with a great shot before Stuart Taylor stopped Hunt turning in Robson-Kanu’s cross.
Robson-Kanu pulled one back for Reading late on with a close-range header from Harte’s cross before Victor Anichebe had an effort cleared off the line as Everton moved in on fifth-placed Arsenal.
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