An away win is good, but an away win when you come from behind through two wonderful Lucas Joao goals is probably the perfect way to start off a New Year.
Of course it was the performance of the returning Joao that had the fans drooling, and rightly so, but you can’t really fault any of the players’ performances. Rafael produced a big save late on, the entire back four were solid and assured all afternoon, Rino and Laurent did what Rino and Laurent do, and the attacking players looked really sharp - particularly in the second half.
From the moment we conceded the opening goal in the sixth minute, we looked like the only team that was going to score next. And after we came agonisingly close in the latter stages of the first half, up stepped Joao to prove yet again that just how important he is to this team.
It’s as simple as this: keeping Joao fit will be the difference between whether we get top six or not.
The fans were in an excited and optimistic mood on Twitter after the game, and who can blame them?
I feel quite bad really as, considering the stellar job he’s done both on and off the pitch this season, I haven’t really mentioned him much in this season’s Fans’ Verdicts.
However, when it came to light that he posted on Instagram after the Huddersfield game with the caption “Up The ‘Ding”, the fans fell in love with him even more and I knew he had to be a talking point in this edition.
Pauno has laid the foundations to build something very, very special. He is completely restructuring the culture of the club. Everyone from the players and staff to the fans are pulling in exactly the same direction. And the fans are loving it...
Paunos blue and white army— George Whelan (@Georgewhelan200) January 2, 2021
Can we take a minute to say thank you to Pauno we’ve finally got a good coach and manager! #readingfc— JMC (@itsjumka) January 2, 2021
The McIntyre assist
Again, I felt bad that I didn't use Tom McIntyre as one of the talking points from the last game away at Swansea City, but after his Pirlo-esque assist for Joao’s opener, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
McIntyre made the move back to his more preferred role alongside Morrison at centre back against the Terriers and was, again, really impressive.
We know McIntyre has potential, but at times has let himself down this season - such as against Preston. But against Huddersfield he was really good, and it was assist that really grabbed the attention of the fans...
I’ve just seen that Joao goal and I can whole heartedly say with no bias that, that assist from Tom McIntyre is the best assist to ever grace this planet and the beautiful game. #readingfc— Harry Sands (@SarryHands) January 2, 2021
Great to have Joao back, but another assist for Tom McIntyre. He's had some lovely performances recently. #ReadingFC— Dan Cross (@danieljcross) January 2, 2021
Honestly, what can I say in this intro that hasn’t already been said about Joao? He’s just ruthless, and the best striker we’ve had in quite some time.
The first goal was so powerful to hold off the defender and then a wonderfully calm finish, and the second was just something special - there aren’t many strikers in the league who can make something out of nothing quite like Lucas can.
The fans absolutely love him, and took to Twitter after the game to show that love...
Joao is the most complete striker in the league sn #readingfc— Jacob Hodges (@Jacobhdgs) January 2, 2021
Joao stays fit we easily make play offs, great win that! #readingfc— Eoghan Burton (@eoghan1996) January 2, 2021
Goals this season:— Andrew Savory (@adsavory) January 2, 2021
Sheffield Wednesday = 15
Lucas João = 16#readingfc
Is there any lawful impediment to stop me from marrying Lucas João's second goal? #readingfc— Karz From The 'Ding ☕ (@FFSKarz) January 2, 2021
Great result today, looked pretty poor for the first half hour, really turned it on in the second half. Lucas Joao is incredible, the close control and the way he shapes up to get a shot off is first class. Have to keep him fit. URZ #readingfc— Steven Hansell (@steveyroyal) January 2, 2021
A perfect start to the New Year. Everyone to a man was superb, and the celebrations after Joao’s second just show how close and tight-knit this group of players and staff is. Everybody is going in the same direction, and us fans have a duty to buy into that, and I think we’re on the right path to do that.
Onwards and upwards from here.