Reading 3-1 Derby: Royals take their first league win in five games to stay in the top six and rekindle their play-off push thanks to goals from Michael Olise, George Puscas and Lucas Joao
- Reading took the lead just before half time with a beautiful goal from Michael Olise
- They doubled their lead at 57 minutes when George Puscas scored
- Derby made the hosts nervous when Tom Lawrence scored with ten minutes to go
- But those nerves were quickly dispelled when Lucas Joao added a third goal
- Wayne Rooney’s Derby is in 19th place with eight points ahead of the bottom three
Teams imploding due to playoff pressure is nothing new, but Reading showed they are more than capable of not getting on such a list.
A sublime Michael Olise attack seconds before half-time set the blueprint, before George Puscas and an exiled Lucas Joao were also on target to end a four-game winless streak.
How badly this win was needed if the Royals are to stay in the hunt for a spot in the Premier League.
Michael Olise struck a stunning blow to score Reading’s first goal in a crucial win for the Royals
With the win, Reading remains one point ahead of Bournemouth, who is just outside the play-offs
George Puscas adjusted well on the rebound, passing the ball over David Marshall to make it 2-0
Derby defender Andre Wisdom is challenged by Reading’s second scorer Puscas for the ball
Veljko Paunovic showed his ruthless side by putting top scorer Joao on the bench after a horror miss against Barnsley on Friday.
The home team had the lion’s share of the property, but little was noticeable.
Aside from a few kicks ahead in the physical Yakou Meite, Derby grew in confidence as the Royals’ four-game winless run started to make sense.
AGREEMENT AND REVIEWS
READ (4-4-2): Rafael 7.5; Laurent 6, Moore 6, Holmes 6, Richards 6 (Gibson 67,6); Olise 7 (Semedo 81), Ejaria 6.5 (Esteves 89), Rinomhota 6.5, Yiadom 6; Meite 7 (Aluko 89), Puscas 6 (Joao 81).
Subs not used: Southwood, Dorsett, Tetek, Semedo, Baldock.
Scorers: Olise, Puscas, Joao.
Booked: Moore, Laurent.
Manager: Veljko Paunovic 6.5.
Man of the match: Rafael.
DERBY (3-4-2-1): Marshall 5.5; Wisdom 6, Mengi 6, Forsyth 6; Byrne 6 (McDonald 35, 6), Bird 6, Shinnie 6, Lawrence 6.5; Sibley 5.5 (Jozwiak 62, 6), Knight 5.5 (Stretton 62, 6, Roberts 81); Kazim-Richards 6.5.
Subs not used: Roos, Roberts, Buchanan, Bateman, Baningime, Watson.
Manager: Wayne Rooney 6.
Referee: Jonathan Moss 5.
Tom Lawrence had thrown a shot next to him and Nathan Byrne was forced out after a nasty heads with Meite – a stretcher was brought but thankfully unused – before Colin Kazim-Richards should have scored after 20 minutes.
He swept center-back Liam Moore and Tom Holmes to head a diving dive and hit the left post.
Rafael then delivered a crucial double save – first from Tom Lawrence’s short-range rebound before Kazim-Richards had a second bite on goal, but his curling attempt was again denied by the Brazilian.
Such opportunities can be the fine line between safety and a relegation dogfight. This time they were severely punished.
No shots had been recorded by the Royals before Olise pulled a reigning left leg curler into the top left corner seconds before half time.
A touch and a pointy finish from outside the area – it had come out of nowhere.
Wayne Rooney’s men never really covered this up when Derby’s heads fell towards the tunnel.
Zero shots on goal quickly turned into two strokes, two goals when Puskas passed goalkeeper David Marshall after Meite’s attack was parried to his feet.
On the other hand, Rafael was in inspired form.
Lawrence had put the ball out of his feet after 65 minutes, and five minutes later the keeper made another great save to deny a powerful Max Bird attack.
Lawrence’s shot from outside the area at 79 minutes was undeniable, however, Joao came minutes later with a point to prove scoring with his first touch and take away all hope from Derby.
Tom Lawrence scored after 79 minutes to give Reading something to think about
Hopes for an equalizer diminished quickly when Lucas Joao added a third in the closing minutes
It was another disappointing afternoon for Wayne Rooney and Derby who are 19th in the table