Reading 2 (Le Fondre 87, 90)
Chelsea 2 (Mata 45, Lampard 66)
Yet another unbelievable come back from the Royals sealed a point against European Champions Chelsea on Wednesday evening.
The home side had looked comfortable in a fairly uneventful opening period, before a hammer blow from Juan Mata put the vistors ahead in first half stoppage time.
A fantastic piece of vision from Fernando Torres set the Spaniard away – allowing him to finish brilliantly past Federici.
Lampard’s dominating header doubled their lead just after the hour mark, but the away side were given a nervy climax to the game as substitutes Hope Akpan and Adam Le Fondre linked up to pull a goal back – with the latter lashing home his 11th goal of the season.
And amazingly history repeated itself, as Le Fondre bagged yet another brace from the bench - smashing into the net after Federici's stoppage time free-kickw as nodded down, again by Akpan.
Reading: Federici; Harte, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa; Leigertwood, Guthrie (McCleary 58), Karacan (Akpan 77), McAnuff (Le Fondre 66), Kebe; Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Shorey, Morrison, Akpan, Robson-Kanu, McCleary, Le Fondre
Booked: McAnuff (foul 29)
Chelsea: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Cole, Cahill, Ivanovic; Bertrand, Ramires, Lampard (C), Mata (Benayoun 77), Oscar, Torres (Ba 90)
Subs: Hilario, Ferreira, Terry, Marin, Benayoun, Ake, Ba
Booked: Ramires (Foul 40), Azpilicueta (diving 90)
Attendance: 24,097 (2,108)
The opening fifteen minutes were reasonably tame, a situation the Royals were perfectly happy with. A number of Chelsea corners were well seen out by the home side, with Ashley Cole’s long range effort the only real shot on goal – and that flew well over the bar.
Indeed the only heart in mouth moment of the first half hour came as Frank Lampard’s free-kick dropped into the box, only for Cesar Azpilicueta to head wide of Federici’s goal.
Ryan Bertrand, who had received a warm reception from the home support before the game, tried to reignite the memory of his Madejski spell in spectacular fashion five minutes before the break – but his half volley from 30 yards crashed a long way wide of goal.
Cole also lashed wide in the final three minutes, though in truth nothing was really threatening the home goal – and Brian McDermott will have felt relatively comfortable at the break until Juan Mata inflicted a late, deadly blow.
Fernando Torres’ beautifully crafted chip sent the Spaniard away – and he finished superbly to give the visitors a lead.
The Royals were almost caught out by a similar piece of magic ten minutes after the break, Lampard this time showing terrific vision to pick out Oscar’s late dash into the box – but the Brazilian could only steer wide from an awkward angle.
The same combination were back at it ten minutes later, with Oscar this time forcing a corner – and it was from that set piece that Chelsea would bag their second.
A fantastic delivery from Mata was met emphatically by Lampard, who powered a header past Federici.
It was always going to be an uphill battle from there on in – as Brian McDermott introduced Adam Le Fondre and, later, Hope Akpan in an effort to spring another remarkable comeback.
Akpan showed a determination to have an impact – sending a dipping strike narrowly over Turnbull’s crossbar from thirty yards.
The other replacement also attempted to have his say, bending a shot at goal under intense pressure – which again whipped marginally off target.
At the other end the lively Oscar was doing everything but finding the net, as he broke the offside trap before seeing his dinked effort well kicked away by Federici.
But the visiting fans were made to bite their nails – and again it was the two substitutes who created a goal for the Royals.
Akpan’s assist showed vision on an equal par to Torres’ first half pass, whilst Le Fondre’s left foot drive was superb – leaving Turnbull with little chance.
Ramires forced another smart save from Federici in stoppage time as the European Champions attempted to keep their cool, but this was Reading. This was the Premier League - and ultimately, the end to the script was inevitable!
Federici's last gasp free-kick was punted upfield, Akpan nodded across goal and who else but Le Fondre was there to smash home and send Berkshire into delirium. Reading were out the bottom three!