Chelsea edge past resilient Royals
22nd August 2012
Chelsea scored three goals in the last 25 minutes to down a resilient Reading side at Stamford Bridge, to win the match 4-2. Despite the Royals taking a 2-1 half time lead, the European Champions came back to win.
Royals boss Brian McDermott decided to take out Saturday's hero Adam Le Fondre for the returning Jem Karacan, to supply an extra man in midfielder to compress Chelsea's midfield threat. The Blues started the game well, dictating the tempo of the game without getting past the Royals backline. Eden Hazard's shot going just wide was the closest either team came in the opening stages.
Brazilian Ramires was the next player to have an effort on Federici's goal, but the Australian dealt with his shot comfortably. Fernando Torres then had the best chance of the game on 15 minutes, as he nutmegged Jem Karacan, jinked passed another defender but with only Federici to beat, he slipped and sliced hit shot into the stands.
However, the European Champions were awarded a penalty minutes later. Eden Hazard got the ball on the right and Royals defender Chris Gunter stuck out a leg and the Belgian caught the challenge, with referee Lee Mason awarding the spot kick. Penalty specialist Frank Lampard duly stepped up to fire it beyond Federici and give Chelsea the lead.
Despite this goal, the Royals were not to be undone and came back with a goal of their own on 25 minutes. Good work in central midfield gave Garath McCleary space on the right flank to delivery a perfect cross for Pavel Pogrebnyak to get his header up and beyond the diving gloves of Cech. The Pog's first goal in a Reading shirt.
Just as Royals fans thought it couldn't get any better, it could. A jinxing run from Jobi McAnuff led to the winger being hacked down by John Terry just outside the box. It looked as if Ian Harte was ready to take aim, but instead Danny Guthrie fired it in with his right foot and Cech somehow parried it into his own goal to put Royals fans in dreamland.
Chelsea skipper John Terry then had a header just over the bar from a Eden Hazard delivery, but the pendulum was starting to swing in the favour of the Royals. Reading went close to extending their lead to 3-1 when a central Ian Harte delivery was just missed by the on-rushing Alex Pearce.
Roberto Di Matteo's side came out in the second period very much on the front foot, with efforts from Ivanovic and Torres giving early warning signs to the Royals. Reading continued to press the European Champions with great endeavour and they struggled to break down the battling Royals side, until 69 minutes when they found an equaliser.
Defender Gary Cahill pushed up into midfielder and wasn't closed down by the Royals defence, allowing the England defender to have a go from 25 yards and find the back of the net. Goalkeeper Adam Federici would have once again be disappointed with his contribution to that goal, when it looked as if he should have saved Cahill's effort.
Chelsea wanted an instant reply with efforts from the impressive Mata and substitute Danny Sturridge, but once again Reading held out. Although, the European Champions completed their comeback in controversial fashion. A good move gave Ashley Cole space on the left, to cross low for Fernando Torres to tap home, despite the Spaniard looking a good yard offside.
Salt was then rubbed in the wound from a Reading point of view as Chelsea scored a fourth deep into injury time. Keeper Federici went up for a corner, only to be undone by a swift Chelsea break and Hazard squaring to Branislav Ivanovic to score in the empty net. It was a harsh scoreline for the Royals, but the European showed their true colours in the last 30 minutes.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Mikel (Sturridge 68), Lampard, Mata (Meireles 84), Ramires (Oscar 57), Hazard, Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Bertrand, Essien, Romeu, Meireles, Oscar, Sturridge
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, McCleary (Robson-Kanu 86), Karacan (Le Fondre 71), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Guthrie, Pogrebnyak (Hunt 77)
Subs: McCarthy, Mariappa, Cummings, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, Le Fondre