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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Reading 1-0 Everton
By Richard Hookham

Steven Hunt
Hunt celebrates his winning strike
Everton were knocked off the top of the Premier League table on goal difference as they lost for the first time this season to hard-working Reading.

Stephen Hunt fired the first-half winner when he lashed the ball past Tim Howard just before the interval.

Everton looked more dangerous after the break with Andrew Johnson going close.

But the Royals' extra work-rate paid dividends as they survived a late surge by the visitors to seal their first victory of the season.

Reading, who started their campaign by holding champions Manchester United to a creditable goalless draw at Old Trafford before losing 2-1 at home to Chelsea, showed they meant business from the start.

Seol Ki-Hyeon got away down the right and whipped over a low cross towards the near post, where Kevin Doyle saw his shot put behind by Joleon Lescott.

Then Hunt's clever dribble and cross from the left flashed across the Everton goalmouth after seven minutes.

606: DEBATE
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Everton escaped again when Hunt's cross appeared to have been pushed behind for a corner off the arm of Lescott, who was moved into a central defensive role after Joseph Yobo had failed a late fitness test.

Then Kevin Doyle, who earlier saw a sweet right-footed strike well saved by Howard, volleyed just wide of the left post and was involved again when he clipped a delicate cross to the far post only for the oncoming Hunt to head wide.

The visitors - seeking to maintain their 100% start to the new season - looked most dangerous on the break.

David Moyes
Moyes was unhappy with Everton's defending for the Reading goal

And their best chance came from a deep long ball up to Mikel Arteta, who cut it back for England striker Johnson, whose 10-yard snapshot was deflected over the bar by the classy Andre Bikey.

Reading should have won a penalty in the 19th minute when Shane Long's cross looked to have been deflected behind by Lescott's outstretched arm, but referee Steve Bennett would have none of it.

But just 90 seconds before the interval, the home side got the breakthrough they deserved.

Substitute Ulises De la Cruz - on for the injured Graeme Murty - launched a long throw deep into the Everton box before Hunt collected on his chest, stole in front of a clutch of Everton defenders and hammered past the helpless Howard.

Everton came out a different side in the second half with Johnson a tireless outlet.

Reading responded with an athletic Nicky Shorey volley direct from a corner which was well blocked.

But Royals keeper Marcus Hahnemann was forced into a series of saves, denying the increasingly influential Arteta from point-blank range.

With time running out, Everton substitute James McFadden curled a deft cross-cum-shot which bounced back off the home crossbar into the path of Johnson, but the former Crystal Palace striker was unable to force the ball home in the ensuing goalmouth scamble.


  • Reading manager Steve Coppell:
    "I have had a respect for my team for a long while, and once again today their earned it in bucket-loads.

    "Everton looked as if they were capable of springing us, they are a very resilient side.

    "We made some critical interceptions and just about came through it, but it was a very valuable three points for us in what has been the most difficult three-game start of any team."

  • Everton manager David Moyes:
    "I can't say we played well enough for three points but I thought we did enough to get a draw.

    "It was a schoolboy goal we gave away and if you do that sort of thing at his level you'll get punished.

    "We started well and created a few chances but Reading looked strong and we did better in the second half, but despite the result we have to be fairly satisfied with what we've achieved so far this season."


    Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (De la Cruz 35), Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon (Oster 71), Harper, Gunnarsson, Hunt (Convey 79), Doyle, Long. Subs Not Used: Federici, Fae.

    Booked: Ingimarsson, Long.

    Goals: Hunt 44.

    Everton: Howard, Hibbert (McFadden 66), Lescott, Stubbs, Nuno Valente, Osman (Jagielka 89), Carsley, Neville, Arteta, Anichebe (Pienaar 57), Johnson. Subs Not Used: Ruddy, Baines.

    Booked: Lescott, McFadden.

    Att: 22,813

    Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

    SEE ALSO
    Saturday's football photos
    18 Aug 07 |  Football


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