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Reading 1-2 Everton: Instant Reaction

The Blues eventually won a game which showed weaknesses as a team alongside some individual brilliance...

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

When the line up came out some were expecting a thrashing, but in the end it was a struggle for the Toffees.

Everton were poor in the first half, with Gerard Deulofeu one of the only rays of hope. The Spaniard terrorized the Championship side's back line, causing trouble throughout. It was only poor finishing from Arouna Kone and Romelu Lukaku, and the sheer amount of bodies in front of him that stopped the 21-year-old from creating a goal.

Elsewhere, slow build up caused problems when the Blues had the ball, but in truth the Royals were able to nullify the midfield easily. Leon Osman and James McCarthy, in particular, were unable to influence the game as they should against lesser opposition.

When the goal came, it was in now way against the run of play. Minutes after Joel Robles was forced in to saving a swerving 25-yard shot, a ball fired across the penalty area was turned in at the back post by Nick Blackman. Ramiro Funes Mori could be seen as at fault for the goal, failing to win the ball ahead of the forward.

In the second half, things picked up, with the arrival of Gareth Barry adding more control in the middle of the park. The 34-year-old's influence on the game, in place of Arouna Kone, perhaps shows that Roberto Martinez was wrong to play such an attacking line up in the first place. The lack of cover on the wings had been evident in the first half, with Aaron Lennon's never ending running not quite enough to cover the hole out wide.

Perhaps the worst moment of the night came in the 49th minute, when John Stones was forced off the pitch with an injury. Brendan Galloway impressed again as his replacement, but if the England international is out for any length of time it will be a major blow.

Ross Barkley managed yet another moment of brilliance for the equaliser, hitting a first-time left-footed volley from just inside the area after the ball had deflected out from a corner. From this point the Toffees were far more comfortable, perhaps an indicator of how much our fortunes will rely on the Wavertree-born ace this season.

Just over ten minutes later, Gerard Deulofeu got a touch lucky with his goal but deserved it for his efforts in the 90 minutes. Ali Al-Habsi, one of Martinez's former charges at Wigan, could have done far better than he did, but the Everton man had struck the free kick well from around 25-yards out.

For the final 20 minutes the game calmed down, with both sides looking tired from their efforts earlier in the encounter. Reading did put pressure on, but it was dealt with easily enough by the back four, Barry, and McCarthy. There were also occasions on the break where Romelu Lukaku could have finished the match off.

All in all, a good night for the Blues in terms of the result, but a dodgy formation and quicker passing in the middle of the pitch could have made it far easier on the nerves.