CRYSTAL Palace’s Wilfried Zaha showed why he is one of the most sought-after players in the Premier League after his scintillating performance put Reading FC to the sword.

Royals finished their pre-season fixtures without a win after a resounding 4-0 thumping at the hands of Roy Hodgson’s rampant side at Madejski Stadium.

In truth, Paul Clement’s side were below-par and goals from Alexander Sorloth and James Tomkins, coupled with a brilliant brace by Zaha, showed Royals have plenty left to do before their Championship opener against Derby County.

Much of the pre-match talk was centred around Liam Moore after the defender reportedly handed in a transfer request on Friday.

And the 25-year-old stalwart’s future took a new twist when Royals confirmed he had been left out of the squad to face Hodgson’s Eagles.

Tiago Ilori instead partnered Paul McShane at the back while Yakou Meite started up front with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Marc McNulty making the bench.

The visitors thought they had taken an early lead when Wilfried Zaha drifted infield before playing in Alexander Sorloth, who finished with aplomb.

Thankfully for Reading however, the linesman’s flag had already gone up with the striker clearly in an offside position.

But Hodgson’s side continued to be a threat and had Reading penned in for much of the opening minutes with Zaha pulling most of the strings.

Modou Barrow created Royals’ first chance when his lung-busting run down the left flank allowed him to fizz a teasing cross into the box.

French forward Meite was ready to pounce but the ball was just taken off of his toes by Palace’s Wayne Hennessey.

The 22-year-old was in the thick of the action again with 17 minutes played when his left-footed cross narrowly missed an unmarked Sone Aluko inside the box.

Palace went straight down the opposite end a goalmouth scramble ensured but Royals just managed to clear their lines with Zaha ready to pull the trigger.

Chris Gunter found himself in dangerous territory when he intercepted a long-range pass only to cushion his header beyond Mannone and out for a corner after 26 minutes.

But the Premier League side eventually showed their class with the ever-dangerous Zaha at the heart of the action once again.

This time, he teased his way past Andy Yiadom on the left before picking out Sorloth to blast the ball into the back of the net after 33 minutes.

The goal seemed to disrupt Royals’ rhythm and Clement’s side found themselves struggling to break down their lively opposition Hodgson’s side should have doubled their lead after 43 minutes when they walked through Royals’ defence before Sorloth dragged his shot well-wide and out for a throw.

But they did take the lead soon after the restart when Van Aanholt’s cross was turned in by the dangerous Zaha in front of the travelling Palace fans.

Reading should have answered straight away when Barrow’s delivery found Swift inside the box.

The midfielder opted to take a touch and turn rather than shoot first-time and the eventual strike was deflected wide for a corner.

Midfielder Kelly, who stood out among the rest at Madejski Stadium, showed sublime skill to evade two defenders before picking out Omar Richards on the left wing.

Richards’ cross fizzed across the box and nearly reached Kelly at the back post but there was just too much power on the ball.

Clement had seen enough and threw on both McNulty and Bodvarsson after the hour mark as he looked to take the game to Palace.

But Zaha sealed Royals’ fate after 63 minutes when he curled a powerful shot beyond Mannone from the edge of the penalty area.

And Clement really had some thinking to do when Andros Townsend picked James Tomkins out at the back post five minutes later to make it 4-0.

Royals looked dead and buried as Palace continued to charge forward and stretch Clement’s back line.

McNulty looked lively whenever the ball moved forward and tried to re-write the headlines with an audacious half-volley from distance on 82 minutes.

Unfortunately, the former Coventry City striker did not quite catch the ball right and his effort flew both high and wide of Hennessey’s goal.

Royals kept things simple for the remaining minutes and could have had a consolation goal as Hennessey denied McNulty after the striker went through on goal.

But Reading ended their pre-season without a single win and now turn their focus to the Championship with Derby County visiting Madejski Stadium on Friday night.

Reading FC: Mannone, Gunter (Richards,33), Yiadom, McShane, Meyler, Swift (Bodvarsson, 63), Aluko (Clement,68), Barrow (Blackett, 68), Ilori, Meite (McNulty, 63), Kelly

Subs not used: Evans, Walker