Everton 1 Reading 1

Last updated : 14 January 2007 By Footymad Previewer
Even the sight of Rocky Balboa in a blue scarf failed to inspire a lacklustre Everton side to victory as Reading delivered a knock-out blow to the Toffees' fading UEFA Cup dream.

Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone looked unimpressed as Reading grabbed a point to go some way to avenging their home defeat by Everton in December.

David Moyes demanded his team bounce back from their FA Cup home humiliation at the hands of Blackburn last weekend, while Steve Coppell was hoping to make amends for Reading's 2-0 defeat by the Toffeemen a month ago.

Tim Cahill, James McFadden and Gary Naysmith all returned for Everton as Nuno Valente and Mikel Arteta were out injured and youngster Victor Anichebe dropped to the bench.

Coppell made wholesale changes to his side with only three players from Tuesday's entertaining FA Cup win against Burnley starting the game.

Andy van der Meyde and Cahill were the catalyst for a positive start by Everton as they tricked and teased their way into danger areas.

Cahill should have scored in the 11th minute when a neat Andy Johnson cross opened up Marcus Hahnemann's goal, but the Aussie was to nonchalant with his chip and the Reading keeper gathered after spilling the ball.

Kevin Doyle and Leroy Lita were proving little threat to Tim Howard's net until Doyle won a free-kick on the edge of the area after being brought down by Joleon Lescott.

Nicky Shorey delivered a teasing cross into the six-yard box and Stephen Hunt managed to scramble it past Howard to put Reading in front.

Doyle tweaked his hamstring on 35 minutes and was replaced by Shane Long in a blow for the visitors.

Ibrahima Sonko was yellow carded on 41 after a cynical late challenge on Johnson that the Everton striker was lucky to walk away from.

After the goal Everton looked increasingly disorganised as the game approached half-time.

Their only real chance was an identical free-kick to Reading on the edge of area but McFadden shot straight at the wall to the groans of the home crowd.

Anichebe replaced the hapless McFadden at the break as Moyes looked for an equaliser.

The Toffees set out their stall immediately with Cahill forcing a corner but Reading cleared the danger easily.

Johnson hit a screamer on 51 minutes that sailed agonisingly above the Reading crossbar as the Blues tried to get a foothold into the game.

A couple of minutes later a wonderful cross from van der Meyde saw Anichebe rise above the challenge of Hahnemann but his header was cleared off the line by Sonko.

Reading brought the game to Everton after that, although Leon Osman did have the ball in the net but the linesman had already flagged Anichebe offside.

Reading were growing in stature by the minute as they went on the hunt for a second goal using a direct long ball approach which had Lescott and Joseph Yobo clearly rattled.

It was Johnson who almost equalised though as his shot went past Hahnemann but rolled past the wrong side of the upright.

Everton in fact had a volley of shots in the closing stages but could not get the rub of the green until Yobo crossed for Anichebe in the 81st minute to flick on to Johnson who beat the Reading keeper to head home the equaliser.

The game took on a hint of urgency after the goal as both teams went searching for a winner with Everton coming closest with Anichebe hitting the side-netting with a last-ditch attempt and Lee Carsley coming within a whisker of being the hero with a stunning free-kick.