Writer: Lofty 1905
Date:Wednesday January 30 2013
Chelsea failed to get back to winning ways tonight after a 2-0 lead over Reading evaporated late on at the Madejski stadium.
Juan Mata provided the opener after an uninspiring first half display and Chelsea went 2-0 up via Frank Lampard in the second half, but the Royals battled to the final whistle and somehow managed to pull level at the death.
Rafael Benitez opted to rest John Terry after his return from injury against Brentford at the weekend, whilst Fernando Torres was preferred ahead of Demba Ba up front.
The blues lacked penetration early on, as Reading pressed well and disrupted the pattern of play.
The Royals soon had a decent spell of possession of their own, but couldn't put Chelsea under any pressure.
With twenty minutes gone and no significant Chelsea effort on goal to speak of, Reading looked the more contented side. We slowly started to exert more pressure in their final third, but couldn't make it count.
Reading captain McAnuff was booked in the 27th minute, after a dangerous looking challenge on Oscar. Gary Cahill had a free header from the resulting set piece, but couldn't get his effort on target.
Chelsea were looking good on the ball, dominating possession and spreading the play in an effort to find a way through.
Ryan Bertrand shot wide in the 37th minute, after Fernando Torres got on the end of a Branislav Ivanovic long ball and chested it into his path.
As half time approached we continued to look comfortable as Reading afforded us time and space on the ball, but we couldn't make the most of our possession.
Juan Mata conjured up a great chance on in the 40th minute, wrestling free from two defenders before finding Oscar on the edge of the box with a nice lob, but Fernando Torres messed up the opportunity and served up a wayward shot.
Ashley Cole shot well wide in the 42nd, as we continued to look for the breakthrough.
Reading had a late spell of attacking intent, but Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard both looked assured defensively as they marshalled the threat easily enough.
Chelsea finally found a way through in stoppage time, Mata layed the ball off to Torres on the edge of the box before making a great run, Torres picked him out with a lofted through ball and he smashed a shot across his body and past the keeper.
Our first shot on target had been a long time in coming, but finally we found ourselves on top as the whistle blew for half time.
Rafael Benitez refrained from making any changes at the half, with Brian McDermott likewise opting to send out the same eleven for Reading.
Fernando Torres created our first chance of the half, laying on a cross for Ryan Bertrand in the box.
Oscar squandered a chance in the 54th minute after making a great run to get on the end of a Lampard pass, instead of laying it off to the open Fernando Torres he tried and failed to pull off an acrobatic shot.
Ross Turnbull looked shaky in trying to deal with a long ball from Reading, missing his punch completely, but fortunately for him Pogrebnyak was flagged for offside.
The Royals made the first change of the evening, McDermott replacing Danny Guthrie with Gareth McCleary.
Reading had a rare period of possession after an Ashley Cole foul gifted them a free kick, but couldn't make anything of it.
Frank Lampard headed home in the 64th minute, meeting a Juan Mata corner mid-air and dispatching it into the back of the net to put Chelsea 2-0 up.
Chelsea continued to look calm and assured, pushing forward in search of a third goal to put the game to bed once and for all.
Rafael Benitez took off Juan Mata in the 76th minute, replacing him with Yossi Benayoun whilst Brian McDermott brought on Akpan in place of the struggling Karacan.
Reading had a rare opportunity from a free kick, but Adam Le Fondre couldn't control his header and he sent the ball over the bar.
Gary Cahill went down after a clash of heads with McCleary in the 81st minute, but was soon on his feet again.
The Royals continued to look for a goal, but Le Fondre once again served up a wayward effort that didn't trouble Ross Turnbull. Oscar soon found himself through on goal, but squandered his chance.
Reading notched up a dramatic goal in the 86th minute as Le Fondre got the better of Turnbull inside the box, sparking them to life late on and giving them hope.
As the game went into the five minute spell of injury time, Benitez brought on Ba in place of Torres in an effort to chew up the clock.
Reading surged forward late in search of the equaliser, and Le Fondre once again popped up to score a vital goal and equalise right at the death.
Chelsea should have wrapped up a comfortable three points tonight, but late defensive lapses and a failure to shut off the game when given the chance have contributed to another embarrassing evening.
As our away form appears to be slipping, chances of a top four finish are looking increasingly uncertain and much improvement is needed if we are to meet our targets going forward.
Chelsea: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Mata (Benayoun 76), Bertrand, Torres (Ba 90+2)
Unused Substitutes: Hilario, Ferreira, Marin, Terry, Ake
Date:Wednesday January 30 2013
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|3. Man Utd||33||19||8||6||+28||65|
|4. Man City||33||19||7||7||+33||64|
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