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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
23 August 2012
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 41733
F. Lampard 18'
G. Cahill 69'
Fernando Torres 81'
B. Ivanović 90'+
P. Pogrebnyak 25'
D. Guthrie 29'
Chelsea 4-2 Reading is the final score then, and congrats have to go to the Blues for fighting back after being 2-1 down at half-time. A superbly entertaining midweek game all in all - thanks to those of you who've stuck around all match, and even those of you who've hopped on and off the page! I've been Miles Chambers, and stick around on Goal.com to read all the post-match reaction to that Chelsea victory!
A cruel end to the game for Reading but, over 90 minutes, Chelsea probably edged the result. The Royals fought valiantly all match but will leave Stamford Bridge with zero points from the game. Much of the talk after the match will be about Torres' offside goal but Di Matteo & Co. won't care a jot. They're top of the Premier League table on six points with a game more played than any of their title rivals.
90' + 5'
Assist Eden Hazard
90' + 5'
Goal Branislav Ivanovic
GOAL!! And it's...nothing for Reading. Federici being in the wrong box costs the visitors and Branislav Ivanovic gets his second goal in two games from a simple Hazard side-pass inside the almost-empty box.
90' + 5'
His free-kick is deflected just wide for a corner. Reading's goalkeeper is inside the box! It's all or nothing...
90' + 4'
Now...a Reading free-kick 30 yards out. Can they get anything from what will surely be the final chance of the match? Harte takes a big run up...
90' + 3'
Harte's free-kick isn't deep enough to threaten but 30 seconds later and the Royals have a late corner.
90' + 2'
Reading are given a free-kick along the left throw-in line, 45 yards from goal after Ivanovic fouls Reading substitute Hal Robson-Kanu.
The five minutes of added time that are announced are bet by universal booing from home fans.
Just heard the team be referred to as Southampton, but a quick reminder - Chelsea are beating Reading. Fellow Premier League title contenders Manchester City did beat newly promoted Southampton 3-2 at home on Sunday mind you, so the comparisons are there.
Just seen the third Chelsea goal again. Unbelievable that the linesman couldn't see that offside. But I guess you could argue that Torres deserves a bit of luck.
Chelsea's Sturridge slices a volleyed pass diagonally across the pitch erfectly into the feet of Torres. Mind you, I'm pretty sure he was just hoofing it clear and it was lucky it went to a Blues player.
McDermott is livid on the sidelines because of Torres' goal being offside. He'll need to be careful how he words his post-match interview by the looks of it, Premier League officials are amusingly touchy when it comes to criticism!
If you could bottle the atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge right now, put in on a shop shelf and give it a name you would undoubtedly name it 'relief'. The hosts had been heading towards dropped points but now they're ahead and are continuing to press forwards. Reading are really tiring and it would be very surprising if they scored an equaliser in these final few minutes.
Assist Ashley Cole
Goal Fernando Torres
GOAL!! Chelsea 3-2 Reading!! Heartbreak for the visitors but jubilation for the home fans. Fernando Torres send the Blues ahead with a tap in from the back post from an Ashley Cole cross, but Reading will be furious as the Spaniard was clearly offside. You'll be hearing many a grumble after the game for that awful linesman decision. But it's Chelsea 3-2 Reading!
I was at St James' Park when Spain crashed out of the Olympics at the hands of Honduras, and Mata's finishing that night was questionable. He continues his form tonight by being excellent all over the pitch but just off with his final product, as he curls wide from 10 yards inside the box this time.
I wonder if anyone will be able to get angry at Oscar for any wayward tackling this season. He looks roughly eight (exaggeration, obviously). It can't be easy getting angry with somebody who looks like a child!
Reading make a striker-for-striker switch: goalscorer Pogrebnyak off for Noel Hunt.
This game is more open than a 24-hour supermarket right now. End to end stuff.
McAnuff can't get the ball out of his feet after a terrific ball into his feet as he gets the better of Ivanovic down the Reading left, and Chelsea nervily clear the danger.
Apparently, in the last five minutes, Chelsea have had 85% possession of the ball. Another stat to digest in between goalscoring chances I feel.
Daniel Sturridge, who came on for Mikel just before the second Chelsea goal, curls a bit higher over from a similar position to what Mata did moments earlier.
Adam Le Fondre
Reading take off midfielder Jem Karacan for their goalscorer against Stoke City at the weekend Adam Le Fondre. An attacking move from McDermott, but will it pay off or bite the Royals in the back?
Mata fancies joining in this shooting-outside-the-box party, but his shot curls inches wide of the top left-hand corner of the net.
Assist Eden Hazard
Goal Gary Cahill
GOAL!! Chelsea equalise!! Gary Cahill thuds in from around 35 yards to bring the Blues back into the match, but Adam Federici really should have stopped that shot. Still, let's not take anything away from the confidently-hit, well-struck effort from centre-back Cahill. Chelsea 2-2 Reading!
John Obi Mikel
Hazard draws fouls with incredible ease, he really does. He's going to be giving full-backs nightmares all season at this rate.
Ivanovic crosses...blocked. Hazard shoots inside the box...blocked. Cole shoots from 25 yards...swings wide. The Blues are pouring forward but the Royals remain ahead.
Yellow Card Pavel Pogrebnyak
Reading are defending like heroes in west London tonight; Chelsea just cannot find any gaps.
They won't be the first big team to suffer an unlikely defeat (Liverpool at West Brom, Manchester United at Everton) but to lose your first home match of the year against a newly promoted team will devastate Di Matteo. Can they score or goal or two to save themselves from defeat tonight?
"Wheyyyyy"'s ring around Stamford Bridge from the away fans' end as Terry accidentally slams the ball into his team-mate Ashley Cole to give away a corner.
So, less than half an hour left of this match and Chelsea have it all to do. Oscar's first moment comes with a speedily taken effort from 30 yards which drives towards the bottom left corner, but Federici gets down quickly to smother the ball.
The game is paused momentarily as Terry receieves treatment after landing awkwardly in an aerial contest. He hobbles up and is fit enough to play on.
Hazard draws another foul on the right, this time 45 yards or so from goal. Harte is fuming for the referee believing he fouled the Blues attacker, but to be fair he did push him in the back a bit.
Yellow Card Jem Karacan
Reading midfielder Karacan is given the first yellow card of the night after fouling Mata needlessly on the halfway line.
Ramires is the midfielder to make way for highly-rated Brazilian playmaker Oscar. Can he live up to his hype in his home debut?
Mata and Hazard both have blocked attempts on the edge of the Royals area, as Oscar gets ready to come on from the Chelsea bench.
Appalling touch from Ivanovic when under no pressure on the right and it's a Reading throw-in. Stamford Bridge grumbles unanimously.
Chelsea are pressing hard now, and Hazard and Torres are seeing oodles of the ball around the Royals 18-yard box.
Also, it's worth remembering that Chelsea have only won seven of their last 18 Premier League games. "But they won the Champions League!!" some of you cry. Yes, but even the most ardent fan can hardly argue they dominated that May final in Germany.
McAnuff, Guthrie and Pogrenyak all threatened the Chelsea defence in that swift attack, but neither had a viable chance on goal. Don't discount a third goal from Brian McDermott's men just yet folks.
Ramires' high cross from the right seems to just hang in the air, but eventually it plummets towards ground for a Reading body to head it clear.
Chelsea have seen the lion's share of possession early on. But we all know how that ended in the first 45 minutes...
Hazard and Torres link sweetly inside the Reading box, and the Spanish striker slides the ball back for Ivanovic who is rushing towards goal from his full-back position. However, the Serbian skews his shot over the bar and it's a Royals goal-kick.
Stamford Bridge attendance: 41,733. Do with that stat what you will.
Reading get the game back under way. Let's all keep our fingers crossed for a similar amount of entertainment to the first half shall we?
How confident are you of a Chelsea comeback? Or do you think the Blues are doomed to drop points tonight? Let us know in the comments section below!
Pre-game predictions - BE GONE WITH YOU!! Reading fully deserve their lead at Stamford Bridge thanks to a valiant comeback and top notch pressing. Chelsea are making mistakes at both ends of the pitch - from Torres in front of goal to Cech in between his own sticks.
Half-time! A half of two halves, if that makes sense. Chelsea dominated for the first 20 minutes, culminating in a goal from the spot by Frank Lampard. However, the hosts then took their foot of the gas which allowed Reading back into the game. Pavel Pogrebnyak sent in a superb glancing header from around 14 yards first, then Danny Guthrie scored from a free-kick which was spilled into the back of the net embarrassingly by Petr Cech. Yes, it bounced late, but that's no excuse at this level.
45' + 2'
Oh Torres. Torres, Torres, Torres. How have you not got that header on target?! Top movement again from the striker, but he should have knocked his header goalwards, but instead in drops a few feet wide of the right post. Sighs all round at Stamford Bridge.
Poor passing on the right between Ivanovic and Mata. Restlessness personified etched on the faces and resonating in the voices of the home fans. They apparently expected an easy ride tonight, especially after that penalty. How wrong they were.
Defender Alex Pierce should have put the Royals 3-1 ahead! Ian Harte whipped in an immaculate free-kick which left the Chelsea defenders snoozing. Pierce should have got the slightest of glances on the ball a few yards from goal, but it just skimmed past him and inches wide of the left post.
If Reading can press like this all match then Chelsea are going to find it difficult to craft that many chances. Their hustle in midfield wins the ball back and they have a free-kick 40 yards from goal.
Gary Cahill is forced to head behind for a corner as McCleary whips a dangerous cross in from the right. He's being quite the menace for the Royals tonight.
Hazard has a shot 30 yards out but it flies over. Not very hazardous, if you'll excuse the pun. Don't worry, people will get bored of the pun soon I'm sure!
Not much to bring you of interest from Stamford Bridge, It's a scrappy midfielder battle now, as Reading settle make into their early-match camping technique.
John Obi Mikel is the latest player to concede a foul, this time on the halfway line. He throws his arms up in proest as it seems obligatory to do nowadays unless you've blatantly wrestled them to the floor.
If you'd have asked me after the penalty to bet my life savings on a Chelsea win I might have snapped your hand off. Thankfully, I'm not a betting man, and I think this little anecdote shows why...
John Terry rises highest to get his head on Mata's left-footed cross, but the England centre-back nods it way over the crossbar.
Hazard is fouled by Jem Karacan on the left wing and it's a Chelsea free-kick on the byline pretty much.
Torres gets a header inside the box...but it's blocked. That's the first time Chelsea have been inside Reading's box since their penalty goal. How the match has changed since then.
Chelsea look well and truly shaken by these two consecutive goals. McAnuff and Pogrebnyak are tearing the hosts' supposedly world class defence to pieces right now!
"We're top of the league!" the Reading fans are chanting and - if the scores stay this way - they will be top with four points until Saturday!
Goal Danny Guthrie
GOAL!! Danny Guthrie has only gone and scored the free-kick!! The former Newcastle United man drives it straight at Cech but the Blues keeper spills it into his own net. A shocking mistake from the keeper and the Royals are somehow ahead. Chelsea 1-2 Reading!
John Terry ought to be booked for a foul on Reading captain Jobi McAnuff, but instead they just have a free-kick 20 yards out.
That goal has notched everything up a level. The fans are cheering every pass and tackle (especially the jubilant, travelling Reading bunch). The speed of play seems to have increased too. The Royals are actually taking the game to Chelsea finally.
Game on then folks, game on!
Assist Garath McCleary
Goal Pavel Pogrebnyak
GOAL!! Reading are level and it's an absolute peach of a goal. Pavel Pogrebnyak drags the Royals back into the match with an exquisite header from around 14 yards out, glancing into the top-left corner of the net from Garath McCleary's cross. Super stuff from the Russian. Chelsea 1-1 Reading!
International manager alert! England head coach Roy Hodgson has been spotted in the Stamford Bridge crowd watching on. Let's hope Wales boss Chris Coleman wasn't in the stands to watch Welshman Gunter concede that Chelsea penalty!
In a role reversal of the penalty decision, Gunter decides to go down from a Hazard nudge. A soft free-kick is given by the referee on the right along the halfway line.
...But it won't be from this corner. Petr Cech tracks to the back post and holds onto the cross. Chelsea counter from the corner and, had Hazard whipped a better cross in from the left, Torres would have been through with a mighty fine chance there.
Reading win a corner. A set piece could be their best chance at a goal tonight...
Well you cannot say the lead is not deserved. Roberto Di Matteo's men have barely spent a minute outside their competitor's half.
Penalty Goal Frank Lampard
Eden Hazard brings about a foul from Reading defender Chris Gunter and wins his second penalty in two games! Frank Lampard steps up to take it...and Lampard scores! He buries it hard to the left and Federici can't get a finger on it. Chelsea lead 1-0 after 18 minutes.
PENALTY TO CHELSEA!!
This may not be Reading or Leeds festival, but there is a lot of camping going on at Stamford Bridge! Reading have set up their own metaphorical tents in their own area, while at least seven Blues players seem to be surrounding the opposition 18-yard box at all times.
Ramires gets a header on goal inside the box from a Mata (that man is flipping everywhere) cross. 'On goal' is a loose term however, as it practically collects snow during its time hanging in the air before Federici claims in just off his line.
A fantastic run from Fernando Torres. Such a shame the final product was lacklustre. The Spanish striker dribbled with pace through the tight backline but his shot once less than 10 yards out was sliced square in front of goal on his left foot. Still, positive play from the forward.
A long spell of the home side in possession shows no sign of evaporating. The visitors are excelling in closing the space and pressing their opponents though, meaning Chelsea are struggling to find gaps to make more chances.
The Blues were 2-0 up against Wigan Athletic at this stage of the match on Sunday. No such luck this evening unfortunately for them.
The Royals try what can loosely be described as a counter attack. They hoofed the ball forward, Pavel Pogrebnyak got a touch, then the ball dribbled back to Petr Cech. It's been all Chelsea in these first 8 minutes.
Another Chelsea surge! Their best chance of the match too. Ramires is slotted through down the right by (yep, you guessed it) Mata, he dummies on his right then moves onto his left foot inside the box, but his poor shot is easily saved by Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Now it's Frank Lampard's turn to surge forwards onto a Mata pass, but a Reading body gets the danger clear before the veteran England midfielder can get a first touch on the ball.
Kaspars Gorkss, Reading defender, gets his first touch on the ball. Prior to helping the Royals to promotion last season he helped QPR to winning the Championship the year before that. A second-tier side's lucky charm it seems!
Juan Mata initiates the first real attack of the match 45 yards from goal, slotting along the loor for the running Eden Hazard on his left. The Belgian, on the edge of the box, squirms his shot low and a few feet wide of the right post.
Chelsea start us off dressed in their trademark all-blue kit. Reading, on the other hand, are dressed all in yellow. Looking very Norwich City-esque.
Right, they're out, handshakes and formalities are done, and football is about to commence.
Reading's chairman looks an awful lot like a younger version of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich! Just seen a shot of him slouching in front of his seat, looking a little bored as he (and we all) await the teams' arrival onto the pitch. Not long now though.
"We come here to the champions of Europe," the Berkshire club manager Brian McDermott is telling ESPN before kick-off. "This is why we wanted to get to the division." He adds: "We feel this is the right team tonight and we're looking forward to quarter-to-eight and kicking off tonight."
An abrupt end to our fun fact session as Chelsea's new signings are being introduced to a rowdy Stamford Bridge crowd. Eden Hazard and Oscar are dressed in their kit but Marko Marin - injured until September Chelsea suspect - is sporting a snazzy shirt-and-jeans combo. And that's about as fashion-heavy as you'll ever see a Goal.com LIVE! commentary.
Fun fact No.3: Yep, it's another ominous Chelsea-are-probably-going-to-win-based-on-past-matches stat! Tonight's hosts are unbeaten against newly promoted clubs since 2001. Phwoar blimey guv'nor, you might say if you lived in a Mary Poppins version of London. That's a run of 33 matches. The last newbie top division team to beat the Blues on Bridge turf was Charlton Athletic, for the record.
Fun fact No.2: Chelsea have never, ever, EVER been beaten at home by the Royals. Like, ever. Expect that stat to be in every match report should Reading pull off a surprise victory this evening.
Fun fact No.1: The reason that Chelsea and Reading are the only team to be playing between weekends this early in the season is that tonight’s hosts are playing their Uefa Super Cup (Champions League winners v Europa League winners) clash against Atletico Madrid next Friday. ‘Royally’ screwing up their schedule, one might add if he was intending to make a woeful Reading pun. But let’s not go there.
To whet your appetite ahead of this Stamford Bridge clash, I’ve got a small collection of fun factoids for you to either a) appreciate, b) depreciate (I had no idea that was a word either until I typed it and spell checker recognised it), or c) go with the flow until the game starts!
I still can’t believe that’s Ian Harte in the Royals’ defence. I remember him from when Leeds United were still in the Premier League! He’s apparently only 34 but I swear he was around that sort of age 10 years ago. An ageless wonder perhaps...
Reading boss Brian McDermott has chosen to bolster the middle of the park for his side’s first away league game of the season, bringing in two midfielders at the expense of a midfielder and a forward. Garath McCleary and Jem Karacan are brought in for Hal Robson-Kanu and striker Adam Le Fondre. Summer signing Pavel Pogrebnyak, who had a game to forget at Stoke City, will play up front on his own.
Roberto Di Matteo makes two changes to his starting line-up. The defensive alteration is enforced as David Luiz tweeted earlier today that he would miss tonight’s match. (Does anybody remember what team news was like before the days of Twitter by the way?!) The Italian coach’s other difference to the starting eleven against Wigan Athletic on Sunday is that Ramires - ill over the weekend - comes in for Ryan Bertrand.
Reading: Reading: Federici; Gunter, Gorkss, Pearce, Harte; Leigertwood, Guthrie, Karacan, McAnuff, McCleary; Pogrebnyak. Subs: McCarthy, Cummings, Mariappa, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, Le Fondre.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Mikel, Ramires; Hazard, Torres, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Bertrand, Essien, Romeu, Oscar, Meireles, Sturridge.
Line-ups! Line-ups! Come get your line-ups!
Hello and welcome to the first Premier League midweek match of the season! Chelsea host Reading at 7:45pm BST and I, Miles Chambers, will provide every interesting snippet of detail during the game. The last time I did a play-by-play for a match at Stamford Bridge I almost imploded with admiration at Papiss Cisse’s wondergoal when Newcastle United came to visit late last campaign. You know the one. No pressure tonight forwards to live up to THAT strike...
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