JOHN SWIFT produced a showstopper free-kick as Reading FC beat Birmingham City 2-0 to advance into the Carabao Cup second round.

Yakou Meite opened the scoring with a corking finish in the 11th minute before Swift doubled Royals lead with an exquisite free-kick 18 minutes before the end. 

Birmingham never looked like getting back into the game and did not truly threaten until the final ten minutes.

Paul Clement fielded a strong team as he searched for Reading's first win of the season and pre-season, after defeats to Derby and Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

Sam Baldock and Mark McNulty, starting together for the first time, linked up well together from the outset, looking for quick one-two moves.

The first chance for Birmingham came on the three-minute mark as Beryly Lubala snatched a shot wide of the post without any threat to Sam Walker on his Royals debut.

Reading's first real opportunity fell to Leandro Bacuna. After some good passing movement on the left flank Swift played a ball square on the edge of the box for the midfielder, who skied his effort first time. 

But the hosts took the lead in the 11th minute after an sizzling team move.

Baldock laid the ball off to McNulty whose accurate pass fell perfectly for Meite to blast a thunderous effort past the helpless Lee Camp and into the corner of the net.

The impressive Leandro Bacuna showed intent from the outset and made a promising run at the Birmingham defence on 17 minutes, but was hacked down by Gary Gardner, who was booked.

Play was stopped on the 23 minute mark as Gardner suffered from a bleeding nose, and seconds after he came back onto the pitch he almost forced an equaliser, blazing over a first-time effort.

Sadly, Mo Barrow suffered a leg injury midway through the first half and was replaced by Pelle Clement on 26 minutes. 

Connor Mahoney turned Tiago Ilori on 28 minutes only for Walker to save his shot.

Then Reading broke from the resulting corner, with McNulty gunning forward surrounded by blue and white shirts, only to be held back by Josh Dacres-Cogley, who was booked.

Reading Chronicle:

Yakou Meite smashes the ball past Birmingham keeper, Lee Camp.

Meite made a good move on the half-hour mark, as he dummied a Baldock pass through his and Josh Dacres-Cogley's legs, before his cross was too wide and went out for a goal-kick. 

Omar Bogle won a free-kick on the edge of the Reading area on 37 minutes, as he was held back by Andy Yiadom. Mahoney stepped up to take the free-kick and curled his effort inches past the stantion.

Neither side made any changes at the break, but it was Reading who had the first chance. 

Swift played in Meite out wide, but his left-footed shot deflected over the bar. 

Connor Mahoney almost levelled on 56 minutes as he cut in from the right wing only for his drive to miss by inches.

And Liam Moore was lucky to not give away an equaliser on 59 minutes as a low ball from the right wing by Mahoney flicked off his leg only for Dacres-Cogley to head over from point-blank range.

Baldock showcased his close control at many occasions throughout the game, frequently using quick feet to manouver the ball past opponents. 

But he failed to convert one of the easiest chances of the game after yet more link-up play with McNulty.

Swift played a ball out wide to McNulty, who squared the ball for Baldock to tap into an empty net, but the striker failed to connect.

However, moments later and it was 2-0 as Swift doubled the lead on 72 minutes with a fantastic free-kick.

From the edge of the area, the Royals' number 10 strode up and struck the ball clean as anything. Camp flapped at the ball but it flew into the top corner.

John O'Shea made his Royals' debut on 81 minutes as he replaced the injured Meite. 

Reading had chances to make it three when Yiadom was set free inside the box, but he snatched a shot over the bar.

Walker then produced a moment of magic to save from close range after Yiadom's mistake fell to Che Adams, who would have scored but for the outstretched leg of the keeper.

Minutes later Walker was called into action again as Beryly Lubala was played in behind the Reading back line. He hit his shot early and Walker saved comfortably.

Reading held on for the win and their first victory of the season which will boost confidence for Saturday's home league clash against Bolton (3pm ko).

Reading FC: Walker, Yiadom, Moore (C), Ilori, Blackett, Bacuna (Rinohmota 73), Swift, Barrow (Clement 26), Meite (O'Shea 81), McNulty, Baldock. Subs not used: Mannone, Clement, Bodvarsson, Richards, Kelly. Booked: Rinomhota 78.

Birmingham City: Camp, Kiefenbeld, Roberts, Harding, Mahoney (Jota 65), Scarr, Solomon-Otabor, Gardner (Lakin 73), Dacres-Cogley, Lubala, Bogle (Adams). Subs not used: Trueman, Maghoma, N'Doye, Seddon. Booked: Gardner 18, Dacres-Cogley 29.

Referee: Dean Whitestone.

Attendance: 6,934 (1,021 away).