Football: Steven Pienaar inspired Everton to a convincing victory against relegation-threatened Reading, scoring a wonderful strike from 20 yards.
In another key contribution the midfielder set up Kevin Mirallas, who shot passed Reading reserve keeper Stuart Taylor to make certain that the Toffees' European challenge remains on track.
Marouane Fellaini had put the hosts ahead minutes before the break, heading in Seamus Coleman’s cross, dealing Reading a bitter blow after doing so well to contain Everton’s frontline.
Had Reading striker Adam Le Fondre guided his fierce 19th-minute shot a touch better, there may have been a different story, but the upright intervened and the chance went begging.
As it was, the visitors had to settle for substitute Hal Robson-Kanu’s consolation header, late in the game.
Everton also had their first-choice keeper out of action and Tim Howard will forever be ruing a back injury which caused him to miss his first Premier League match in 210 games, two off a club record in the top flight.
Just four minutes in, Everton lost captain Phil Jagielka to an ankle injury after a crunching challenge from Le Fondre, who later apologised on Twitter, to add to David Moyes’ selection problems before their FA Cup quarter-final tie with Wigan next weekend.
Unlike his opposite number, Everton’s stand-in keeper Jan Mucha had little to challenge him in his first taste of the Premier League and will be very disappointed that, with victory assured, his defence switched off, costing him a maiden clean sheet.
However Mucha was spared the prospect of facing a penalty kick, despite replays showing Sylvain Distin clearly handballed in the box just after the hour mark, with the score at 2-0.
Reading boss Brian McDermott acknowledged the superior quality of their opposition, but wondered if things might have been different.
"It was a great goal they scored, the first goal and the second goal, what can you say?” asked McDermott. "When Adam Le Fondre had a shot and hit the post. If that goes in maybe it's different.”