Reading got off to the perfect start in their 2020/21 league campaign at the weekend, as they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against Derby County.
The Royals took the lead in the first-half, as a well-worked corner routine saw Lucas Joao fire home from close-range. That lead was then doubled shortly before the half-time whistle, as Joao teed up Ovie Ejaria, with the former Liverpool man finishing clinically to give the Berkshire-based side breathing space.
Reading continued to be a threat going forward, with Joao’s performance standing out in the match, as he got off the mark for the season.
In our latest FLW spotlight, we look into Joao’s performance in more detail, and see how big of a role he has to play for Veljko Paunović’s side this season.
Joao has struggled with injuries since signing for Reading from Sheffield Wednesday last season, but he’s shown his quality when fully-fit for the Royals.
He is likely to be Reading’s first-choice striker to lead the line this term, although he’ll be pushed hard by George Puscas for that starting spot.
Joao played the full 90 minutes against Derby, which will be pleasing to see, especially after his injury problems towards the back-end of last year’s campaign.
He scored the opener against the Rams as well, and caused them a number of problems throughout the match, with Matt Clarke often struggling to deal with his physicality and trickiness on the ball.
That physicality was on display for Reading’s second goal on Saturday, as Joao held the ball up well, before teeing Ovie Ejaria up, with the midfielder finishing clinically on the stroke of half-time.
The forward was also fouled three times against Derby, and if he can continue to stay match-fit, then you have to imagine that Reading could surprise a few teams this season in the Championship.
Joao’s pass success rate was 84% in the match as well, and he’ll be eager to build on that as the season progresses, as he’s shown that he can also bring the likes of Ovie Ejaria and Michael Olise into the game further forward in more advanced positions.
His Whoscored rating certainly makes for impressive reading as well, with Joao finishing the match with a rating of 9.13, which was higher than any other player on the day.