Couldn’t do anything about the two goals, which were both taken really well by Championship top scorer Adam Armstrong. Pulled off a number of really good saves to keep the home side’s tally and, for all Reading’s excellence elsewhere on the pitch, Rafael’s stops made the difference.
Tomas Esteves: 8
Really composed performance at right back from Esteves. Showed his maturity defensively, such as when he dealt with a really tricky cross to the back post (his post) but shepherded it out for a corner. Looked tricky going forwards too, and although not much came off in the final third for him besides having a penalty shout waved away, there’s still clearly a lot of potential in this lad.
Michael Morrison: 7
Mostly a good defensive performance, but beaten by Armstrong for both goals. I’m more annoyed by the first, when the Rovers man nipped in front of Morrison for a finish with his foot from close range, while the second was a great header that Reading couldn’t do too much about.
Liam Moore: 8
Put in a good shift at the back and kept things tight well. Made a key block in the first half at 3-1 to prevent the home side getting back into it.
Omar Richards: 8
Solid defensively, but looked more impressive going forwards than he has been in recent weeks for me. Went on a few positive drives upfield to give Reading thrust down that side, and one led to the third goal: getting in behind on the left before his cross eventually came out for Laurent to finish. Kept going late on too, with some really dangerous runs in the closing stages, and almost found Joao with a cross that would have made it 5-2.
Josh Laurent: 8
Great presence at the base of midfield as per, but added a cherry on top with an excellent goal to make it 3-1. Curled the ball into the far corner, just outside the reach of the goalie.
Andy Rinomhota: 7
One of those typical Rinomhota games - going about his job quietly and effectively. No defensive worries, and gave Reading’s midfield real muscle and energy. His main outright contribution was a burst down the left before putting a dangerous cross in, which almost was deflect in for an own goal.
Alfa Semedo: 8
Two assists for a player that gave his most assured performance since signing in the summer. He set up Olise’s goal by winning the ball before the Frenchman burst forward into the area, and played a lovely pass through for Joao to make it 4-2 late on.
Benefitted from being in something of a box-to-box role, rather than the more advanced number-10 position he’s had previously. Gave Reading’s midfield real physical presence throughout and used the ball intelligently, but left the more creative stuff to Olise.
Yakou Meite: 7
Lovely instinctive finish to open the scoring after around nine seconds. Otherwise put in a good shift as a centre/wide forward, depending on where Reading’s fluid 4-3-3 happened to put him, and he bullied Blackburn’s defence to great effect. Less effective though after taking a knock or two in the first half and went off in the second.
Michael Olise: 8
Doubled his season and career tally with a beautiful individual goal for 2-1. Charged into space made by Semedo’s winning of the ball high up, coolly rode a challenge and slotted home. It’s the kind of composure that Olise was missing last season, but will hopefully nail down this season.
Otherwise I’d describe Olise’s performance as intelligent - bar a risky back pass in the first half that Rafael had to put out for a throw. He keeps the ball well and his decision making is constantly improving. It’s a big indication of his quality that, on a night when Reading were missing Ovie Ejaria and John Swift, the 18 year-old stepped up to the plate and we missed neither.
Lucas Joao: 8
A great all-round performance from Reading’s frontman, who came away with a goal and an assist. He was involved early on to set up striker partner Meite with a nifty pass after a few seconds, but rounded off the scoring himself with a gorgeous finish. In that goal he showed great movement to get in behind down the inside left channel, then excellent poise and precision to curl the ball inside the far bottom corner.
Reading miss his quality so much when he’s out. Joao is a real threat both with his back to goal and when he’s charging at it.
Sone Aluko: 6
Replaced Meite on 73 minutes, but didn’t really make any obvious contributions in the closing stages. Most of the play was either Blackburn attacking in that portion of the game, or Reading countering down the other flank to Aluko.
Tom McIntyre: N/A
Not on long enough to get a grade.
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