Everton surrendered fourth place in the table after a lousy second-half performance at the Madejski Stadium gifted Reading a 2-1 win.
It was a proverbial game of two halves, with the Toffees dominating their opponents in the first, as they have done for so much of the season, before seeming helpless to prevent the hosts fighting back.
Everton had taken the lead through Steven Naismith, on hand to pounce after some frail defending. However a combination of poor finishing and two rejected penalty appeals saw the Toffees' lead remain a slender one at the break.
Having been outplayed, Reading then emerged a better side after the interval and Everton began committing far too many errors to maintain their supremacy.
Reading's first Premier League win of the season was eventually sealed thanks to two set-piece strikes from Adam Le Fondre, as the Toffees relinquished their grasp of a Champions League place.
Here's a look at how David Moyes' side fared individually.
Tim Howard: 5/10
Had little chance with both goals, but not his most assured performance dealing with crosses and was also fortunate a rash sprint off his line did not cost his side a calamitous goal early on.
It may seem harsh, but after a series of eye-catching recent displays for his country, Evertonians would appreciate a similar return for his club over the coming weeks.
Seamus Coleman: 4/10
Coleman had some impressive moments on his highlight reel, including one of the best last-ditch tackles of the season. However, once again he was let down by a couple of crucial defensive slips that are beginning to hurt his progression.
The Irishman had a hand in both Reading goals, losing out to Le Fondre at the free-kick before giving away the decisive penalty.
With his positional rivals injured, there are few alternatives at right-back for the moment, but Coleman must quickly iron out these costly recurring errors.
Leighton Baines: 7/10
Not his best afternoon's service for Everton and his team suffered as a consequence.
Baines wasn't played in as often as usual and for once seemed unable to deliver that final delivery as accurately as he so often does.
Despite this, he was still one of his side's most proactive performers, but Jobi McAnuff tested him as much as any opponent has this season, reducing his forward threat.
Johnny Heitinga: 6/10
There was nothing wrong with Everton's defence for long periods today. They restricted Reading's chances from open play and coped adequately when left man-for-man at the back.
Heitinga kept tabs on his striker well, although he gave away a needless free-kick and his poor positioning allowed Reading players to be played through a couple of times late on.
Phil Jagielka: 6/10
As with his defensive partner, Jagielka was generally solid. He cleared his lines, marshalled the back four well in open play and led the side in Phil Neville's absence.
With the ball at his feet he was far too wayward with his longer passing and struggled at times to deal with the extra physicality from Jason Roberts.
Thomas Hitzlsperger: 7/10
Included after Neville was ruled out, the former German international seemed to provide his side with far more mobility and a greater passing range in central areas.
At times his touch appeared heavy, perhaps due to his lengthy absence from the game, but overall his contribution was an unexpected positive. Should have scored when played through at 1-1.
Leon Osman: 7/10
Clearly buoyed by his recent international recognition, Osman roamed around the pitch with extra swagger in the first half, initiating several intricate phases and controlling the tempo with some lavish touches.
Unfortunately for the Toffees he then lost control of the reigns after the break and struggled to regain authority in midfield. Also could have perhaps done better when played through on goal.
Steven Naismith: 6/10
Possibly the player with the most contrasting of halves, Naismith was bright and lively in the first, continually pulling markers around with some clever movement. He took his goal well and was involved in most of Everton's better moments.
As with so many around him, after the break he suddenly became a shadow of his first-half self and was once again left on the fringes of the action. He ended up with the worst passing accuracy of Everton's outfield starters.
Steven Pienaar: 6/10
Pienaar's production is so crucial for the Toffees going forward but so far this season he's seemed a fraction off his game.
He was also impressive before the break today, but too often looked for an extra pass and increasingly gave up possession as the game progressed. Still created more chances than anyone else for Moyes' side but Evertonians are used to much more from their skillful South African.
Marouane Fellaini: 6/10
Everton's saviour in recent weeks was unable to rescue his team once again, cruelly denied late on by the post.
Fellaini showed his class with several neat touches in the first half, but found Sean Morrison a handful in the air during the latter stages and never quite provided his side with the usual platform of possession via his chest.
He also picked up a costly booking and will now miss his side's next game against Norwich.
Nikica Jelavic: 5/10
After returning to goal-scoring form last week, Evertonians had high hopes Jelavic's rapacious instincts of last season would reappear to see him feast upon the home side's unproven defence.
Sadly it proved another frustrating game for the Croatian, littered with offside calls and an unusual lack of composure around the penalty area. Should have finished off two first half chances.
Apostolos Vellios: n/a
Added some aerial presence late on.
Bryan Oviedo: n/a
Came on for Naismith right at the end and added pace and trickery. Hopefully a player Evertonians will see more of in the coming weeks.
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All statistics via EPL Index