The youngster almost scored early in the match after linking up with Luis Suarez to fashion a chance for himself, but saw his shot blocked. It was one of a string of chances enjoyed by the Reds as they dominated possession, with Luis Suarez sending a chipped shot over the bar and Nuri Sahin also going close with an effort from range.
Liverpool have been reliant on Luis Suarez for goals, and will be even more with Fabio Borini injured for three months, but he turned creator to set up Raheem Sterling midway through the half, dinking the ball over the top of the Royals' defence for the youngster to finish confidently past Alex McCarthy.
Liverpool will be assured that they are in control of the game, but will also be aware that a 1-goal lead is never a secure one. Brian McDermott will know that his team still have a route back into this game.