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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

Steven Pienaar hopes the win over Reading puts pressure on the teams around Everton in the push for European places.

The Blues midfielder bagged the best of the three goals that helped down the Royals, with a left-foot scorcher from 25 yards.

He then turned provider for Kevin Mirallas to add his second goal in a week after the Belgian netted against Oldham on Tuesday night.

The win at Goodison was certainly a welcome one, after February yielded just a solitary point for the Blues – the 3-3 home draw with Aston Villa.

“We haven’t given up on Europe,” insisted Pienaar. “Hopefully we can sneak in by the back door.

“There is a bit less pressure on us to push. We will see how the other teams do but hopefully we can get there.
“Europe is important for the supporters. I think they enjoy going away! For me, it’s really good to play in European competition.

“After the Premier League there are only two bigger cups – the Europa League and the Champions League. All the players want to play in them, so it’s important for the club that we get European football.”

It was Pienaar’s strike on 57 minutes that effectively killed off Reading, after Marouane Fellaini’s first half header, and while the Royals did pull a goal back through Hal Robson-Kanu, the points were Everton’s the second the ball left the former Tottenham man’s boot.

“It was one to remember, especially with the left foot,” smiled the South African schemer. “I didn’t really decide that that was what I would do. When I got close to the 18 yard box, things started to open up and it bounced quite well to hit it so I took the chance and it went in.

“But most important was the win. We hadn’t won in the league for a while so it felt good to get all three points again.”

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