Fernando Torres saves Chelsea after newcomers Reading put a stop to Euro party

Chelsea 4 Reading 2: Champions League winners recover from being a goal down to take three points

Stamford Bridge

When Chelsea's team was read out last night, the announcer prefaced the name of each player who had involved last season with the phrase "European champion", a small indulgence that you can forgive a club just three months after their finest hour. In the modern era, football moves on swiftly from even the most significant triumphs.

In Chelsea's case it took about half an hour, by which time they were losing 2-1 at home to a Reading side promoted from the Championship last season and the first wave of mild panic was passing around Stamford Bridge. Last season the crowd watched them chuck away points at home to Aston Villa and Newcastle United and initially this game had the hallmarks of another cock-up.

They won the game in the end largely thanks to a goal, their third, scored by Fernando Torres when the striker was clearly offside. By the time Branislav Ivanovic scored the fourth in the third minute of injury time, Reading were stretched to breaking point and their goalkeeper, Adam Federici, was sprinting unsuccessfully back to his own goal having come up for a last-ditch corner.

The nature of the third goal was hard on Reading who were excellent in the first half but were forced into an inevitable retreat in the second half under a barrage of pressure from Chelsea who finished the game with an overwhelming 72 per cent of the possession. Their best player was the Belgian Eden Hazard whose three assists last night, including winning a penalty, take him to five for the season.

He was the man who eventually brought Chelsea's pressure to bear on Reading although it was Andy Halliday, the linesman culpable on the Torres goal, who helped the home side through the door. Given the extraordinary pace that the modern game is played at, there are certain marginal decisions that can be forgiven. Torres, however, was comfortably offside.

Chelsea dominated the second half having fallen behind to goals before the break from Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie after Frank Lampard has scored from the penalty spot. The home team edged it in the second half but whether they would have won without the help of the officials is one of the great imponderables.

When they were really forcing the issue, Roberto Di Matteo had a four behind Torres comprising of Juan Mata, Hazard and the substitutes Oscar and Daniel Sturridge who played some exhilarating stuff. It was a different Chelsea to the one of recent years, especially with Lampard back holding the fort while the young bucks pushed on for the winning goals.

In defence, however, it was a different story. There was a clanger from Petr Cech for Reading's second goal and Pogrebnyak gave both Gary Cahill and John Terry big problems. Impressive as they were going forward, Chelsea were suspect in defence and this was without David Luiz who announced his absence through injury on Twitter yesterday morning.

Indeed, Reading should have gone in two goals clear but Alex Pearce failed to get a head to Ian Harte's excellent free-kick one minute before the break. They had first gone behind to Lampard's penalty after Hazard had bamboozled Chris Gunter into tripping him on the right side of the Reading area.

Within seven minutes, Reading equalised through the formidable Pogrebnyak. Running into the box to meet Gareth McCleary's cross from the right he directed his header across Cech and into the far corner. Tracking the striker's run, Cahill barely got a peak of the ball from behind Pogrebnyak's considerable shoulders.

It changed Reading's attitude to can-do and soon after Jobi McAnuff drew John Terry into the kind of foul on the edge of the area the Chelsea captain rarely gives away. The free-kick, struck by Guthrie, should not have caused Cech any problems but he made a complete hash of it and dropped the ball in his own goal.

Chelsea had created chances at the start of the game, Ramires and Torres in particular, but by the end of the first half they were struggling. Torres had a decent opportunity from Hazard's cross from the right but directed his header wide of the left post. With strong performances from the likes of Pearce, Guthrie and McAnuff, Reading looked stable.

When Oscar came on for Ramires with 20 minutes left, Chelsea became more dangerous. Hazard opened up Reading in a passage of play that ended in a cross from Torres and a chance for the Belgium international that was blocked by Kaspers Gorkss. Reading found it harder to keep them out

When Sturridge came on for John Obi Mikel on 67 minutes Chelsea were back in the game. With the England international on the right, they equalised in the 69th minute – a goal gifted to them by a mistake from Federici as bad as the one that Cech had made in the first half.

Fed the ball by Hazard, Cahill's low drive was struck honestly but it did not have any degree of menace about it. Inexplicably, the Reading goalkeeper threw himself over the top of the ball and gave the home team an easy way back into the game.

The tide had turned. Chelsea's third goal, scored by Torres, was beautifully crafted. Mata worked the ball forward with help from Lampard and Hazard before it was switched out left to Ashley Cole. His cross was simple for Torres to tuck away, not least because the striker was well-advanced in an offside position when the ball was played.

Until Ivanovic's goal, for which Hazard carried the ball over half the pitch when Chelsea broke from a Reading corner, the away side were still in the game. It was the Torres goal that had tipped it. That and a Chelsea attack that carries some promise for the new season.

Related article from London's Evening Standard...

Di Matteo walking a tightrope as he perfects his take on tiki-taka

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Man of the match Hazard.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee L Mason (Lancs).

Attendance 41,733.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering