Veljko Paunović made the perfect start to life as Reading boss as first-half goals from Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria gave the Royals all three points away at Derby County.
Joao opened the scoring from a corner in the 40th minute before Ejaria doubled the lead from Joao’s pass on the stroke of half-time.
The relatively unknown Serbian coach Paunović was appointed as Reading head coach in place of Mark Bowen but made the ideal start to life in the Championship on the opening weekend of the 2020/21 season.
Liam Moore was given the armband in Paunović‘s first game in charge of Reading.
The Royals had most of the early possession as they played the ball around calmly around the back as Derby struggled to have any extended period of possession despite being at home.
The first glimpse of a Reading attack came after four minutes when John Swift found Michael Olise with a brilliant flick, but his pass which looked to pick out Lucas Joao was crucially intercepted.
The Royals should have capitalised on their fine start to the match in the 18th minute when Joao had a great chance to score but was denied by Marshall, but Swift looked poised to capitalise on the rebound but blazed the ball over the bar.
Ovie Ejaria began to stamp his influence on the game when and had a soft appeal for a penalty turned down when he went down under the challenge of Andre Wisdom. Ejaria was then on the end of a mistimed tackle from Graeme Shinnie who was given the first yellow card of the game.
After an impressive showing, Reading made sure that they had something to show for it when they opened the scoring in the 40th minute through Lucas Joao.
Joao lost his marker as he raced to the front post to meet Olise’s whipped corner and squeezed the ball in at the near post with a first timed finish.
Paunović‘s side then made sure that they would go in with a two-nil advantage as they doubled their lead just a minute before the break.
Goalkeeper Rafael picked out Joao with a long ball as the Portuguese forward used his strength to hold up the ball, before he showed his superb awareness and footwork to flick the ball with a back heel to Ejaria who seized his opportunity as he opened his body and curled the ball into the bottom right corner.
Derby forged their first goo chance of the match early in the second half as Rafael had to get down low to keep out Morgan Whittaker’s powerful drive at goal.
Swift found himself through on goal with a chance to put Reading further in the driving seat but one touch too many allowed Derby to recover when he looked poised to shoot.
The Royals continued to strut their stuff and came a whisker away from adding their third. A sweeping move saw them play it out to the right wing which led to a storming run forward from Andy Yiadom who picked out Joao in the middle but his shot crashed off the crossbar.
Looking to turn their fortunes around, Phillip Cocu drew on the experience of Wayne Rooney who replaced Shinnie on the hour mark for the Rams.
Ejaria was then taken off after picking up an injury and was replaced by Sone Aluko.
Reading continued to look comfortable throughout the half against lacklustre Derby side on the opening day of the Championship season.
The Rams were unable to penetrate the Royals back line as Reading closed out the game to record a clean sheet and three points to put them top of the league after the first round of fixtures.
Next up for Reading is Luton Town at home in the EFL Cup second-round before they host Barnsley in the league next Saturday.
Derby County: Marshall, Wisdom, Forsyth, Shinnie, te Wierik, Bird (c), Marriott, Clarke, Sibley, Whittaker, Knight.
Subs: Byrne, Roos, Evans, Buchanan, Rooney, Davies, Brown
Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Moore, Morrison, Richards, Laurent, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Olise, Joao.
Subs: Southwood, Holmes, Bristow, Araruna, Aluko, Baldock, Puscas
Goals: Joao 40′, Ejaria 45′