Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Blues fight back to beat Royals

Chelsea's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring their third goal of the game

Chelsea enjoyed a huge let-off as Fernando Torres' highly-controversial goal helped them to a 4-2 victory that sent them top of the Barclays Premier League and denied Reading a famous result at Stamford Bridge.

Torres appeared a yard in front of play when he completed his side's comeback from 2-1 down in an early-season thriller but his finish was allowed to stand by referee Lee Mason and his assistants.

It was harsh on Reading, who brilliantly battled back from Frank Lampard's penalty to lead at half-time through Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie. Guthrie's goal came courtesy of a Petr Cech howler and opposite number Adam Federici had a nightmare of his own - his second in five days - in conceding Gary Cahill's equaliser.

Branislav Ivanovic scored into an empty net in the final minute of stoppage-time after Federici bombed forward for a corner as the Royals went in search of a draw.

For 25 minutes, it was the Chelsea show, with Eden Hazard showing the skills that saw manager Roberto Di Matteo dub him an "artist". The Belgian had taken less than two minutes to make his mark on his league debut at Wigan and it could have been the same story here had he not screwed Juan Mata's through ball wide.

Torres went close to a superb solo goal before Chelsea inevitably took the lead in the 18th minute, the skills of Hazard again the inspiration. The £32million man tormented Chris Gunter to distraction and when the leg was dangled, he hit the deck, giving Mason no choice but to award the penalty, Lampard giving Federici no chance from the spot.

If Chelsea thought the floodgates would open, they were given the rudest possible awakening as Reading amazingly turned the game on its head in the space of four minutes.

Pogrebnyak equalised with a brilliant header, getting in front of Cahill to glance home Garath McCleary's cross. But the visitors had an almighty howler from Cech to thank for going in front, the goalkeeper embarrassingly allowing Guthrie's powerful free-kick to spin off his body and into the net.

But, thanks to another goalkeeping howler from Federici, Chelsea drew level with 21 minutes left. The Australian palmed Cahill's swerving 25-yarder into his own net.

Torres then notched the decisive third in controversial fashion, tapping home Cole's low cross when appearing a long way offside. Reading went for broke late on, with Hal Robson-Kanu replacing McCleary and Federici bombing forward at a corner and they were caught out when Hazard squared for Ivanovic to tap home.

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