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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 6 April, 2020


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Chelsea’s European success means they have to squeeze an extra game in so they can compete for the European Supercup.

As always, we’d love to hear from you as the season takes shape. Send us your thoughts and comments on all the action.

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FULL TIME: Chelsea 4 – 2 Reading

A very good evening folks. You join us just as Chelsea and Reading are emerging for their second Premier League fixtures of the new season.

For reasons we cannot explain, this game is not being televised, so stick with us to get all the latest news from Stamford Bridge.

Full team news is coming right up, but we know what you really want to know.

Yes, Ian Harte starts.

Here are the two teams. two changes for the European Champions, Ramires and Cahill are in.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Ramires, Eden Hazard, Mata, Torres.

Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Romeu, Oscar, Meireles, Sturridge, Bertrand.

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Karacan, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Guthrie, McCleary, Pogrebnyak.

Subs: McCarthy, Mariappa, Le Fondre, Hunt, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Cummings.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

KICK OFF: Chelsea get the ball rolling and they attack from the first whistle again. Juan Mata finds some space in the final third and threads a ball through for Edin Hazard, the Belgian wastes no time in pulling the trigger with his left. But the shot zooms low and right of the far post.

A glorious sixth minute opening for Chelsea as they split the Royals’ defence. Ramires drew two defenders as he dribbled to the right edge of the area, he cut back and attempted a left foot shot.

But Fernando Torres was left screaming, the Spaniard was unmarked eight yards from goal.

Could be a long old night for Reading.

12 mins: Brian McDermott managed to briefly calm the game down as yellow jerseys streamed back to defend. But they need a sliding tackle from Gorkss to prevent a terrific Torres solo effort.

Pavel Pogrebnyak is the sole danger-man for the visitors, he has gone close from distance.

Good game, great tempo.

GOAL: Chelea 1 – 0 Reading (Lampard pen ’17)

It’s the same combination that gave Chelsea the lead against Wigan. Edin Hazard’s trickery forced a penalty and Frank Lampard does what Frank Lampard does best, blasting the penalty low and hard.

Hazard is human after all. After Petr Cech claimed Ian Harte’s corner, he bowled it two-thirds of the way downfield to the feet of Mata.

The Spaniard chipped towards Hazard on the other side of the area, he attempted in instant cushion volley to Torres on the penalty spot, but… well, he fell over. And the ball went straight into the stand.

GOAL Chelsea 1 -1 Reading (Pogrebnyak ’25)

It’s massively against the run of play, but the Russian’s goal is brilliant.

McCleary, made some space for himself on the right, and whipped in a cross with Ashley Cole looking on.

Arriving with barrels of power and athleticism was Pogrebnyak. He leapt outside the area and sent the header 16 yards across Cech and into the top corner.

GOAL: Chelsea 1 – 2 Reading (Guthrie ’29)

Astonishingly, the promoted side have come from behind to lead the champions of Europe inside half an hour.

This, though, was a howler from Petr Cech. Guthrie’s free-kick from the edge of the area was drilled, low and straight at the Czech, but he spilled it and it bobbled over the line.

Rob Greene eat your heart out.

37 mins. I don’t want to be hasty or jinx it, but this is by far, the best game of the season so far. Every attack seems to bring a chance.

The latest came after Karacan ran down hazard on the left wing. The free-kick found a Chelsea player rising high to head the ball, but it was Juan Mata – of all people.

The ball shot off his head at a 45 degree angle and over the bar.

We mentioned on Twitter that Pogrebnyak’s goal made two Russian men in Stamford Bridge very, very happy.

Here’s the other one. New Reading owner Anton Zingarevich with his wife Katsia.

Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

43 minutes gone and an Ian Harte in swinger has Chelsea sweating bullets again.

The Blues’ offside trap failed all ends up and Pearce was the closest of five Reading players to connecting with the Louthman’s free kick.

HALF TIME: Ooh, Torres gets on the end of a sumptuous Hazard cross despite being sandwiched by Reading defenders six yars from goal. His contact is a little too thick and the ball travels right of Federici’s goal.

I need a lie down after that. Thrilling stuff. Welcome back to the big time, Reading.

Right, have we all drawn breath? Time to do it again.

We already have a prediction of 7-2 (with 5-0 scribbled out), how do you think it will look in 50 minutes time?

Who will enjoy at least three nights at the league’s summit?

Both strikers have been marvellous thus far. Torres particularly, his movement and interplay with Mata and Hazard is a non-stop headache, and that’s not just my hangover talking.

At the beginning of the second period here he has ran the right-hand channel and pulled back to create a shot. It was Ivanovic this time, searching for his second goal in as many games, but he blazed over.

55 mins It has been a much less open beginning to the second half as Reading batten down the hatches and Chelsea crank up the possession stats.

Roberto Di Matteo has thrown young Oscar into the mix. He takes the field in place of Ramires, the star of last season’s road to Munich has been fairly anonymous since he selfishly chose to shoot rather than set up Fernando Torrew.

When all else fails… it seems a little early to us, but Chelsea have begun hoofing it into big JT on the back stick. The skipper is left winded after the 50-50 collision with Alex Pearce lays him flat on the turf.

30 minutes to go now and the Bridge is nervously quiet. It’s a far cry from the whirlwind opening 20 minutes. But there is life in these old dogs yet.

Pavel Pogrebyak is yellow-carded. He had dropped deep to track Ashley Cole, a sign of the defensive effort being put in by the Championship champions.

They’ve suddenly cranked up the pressure. More superb work from Torres in the channels leads to an opening for Hazard on the edge of the area. Blocked.

Daniel Sturridge is putting his shin pads on as Torres tries to engineer another penalty by chipping the ball at Karacan’s hand.

GOAL: Chelsea 2 – 2 Reading (Cahill ’69)

Just as Mikel makes way for Sturridge, Gary Cahill was striding through midfield. He took the pot-shot on from 30 yards, and his luck was in.

The bouncing ball made a fool of Adam Federici, if Reading are to stay up, he’ll need to bring a swift end to these howlers.

Back by popular demand, Noel Hunt is on the field in place of Pogrebnyak. It’s been a great shift by the former Fulham striker.

Chelsea fans greet the other Hunt with a chorus of boos. Good to see they keep track of Ireland’s best and brightest.

No respite forom this Chelsea pressure. Ivanovic’s cross is deflected into the path of Mata coming across the near post. One touch to set himself and and instant right-foot shot with his second. He cuts it a foot wide of the far post.

Doesn’t look like Reading can hold out much longer.

GOAL: Chelsea 3 -2 Reading (Torres ’81)

His play has deserved a goal, but this one was a good two feet offside.

Mata picked out Cole free on the left side of the area and he opted not to shoot, instead deftly rolling across the six-yard box to make an easy finish for the striker.

84 mins. There is a rapturous round of applause for Juan Mata as he walks to the bench. Roberto Di Matteo has reigned in the horses, putting Raul Meireles on to sure up the midfield for the closing stages.

Incidentally, Reading tested Cech instantly after conceding the goal. Jobi McAnuff with a curler from the edge of the box. Unfortunately, it curled right into Cech’s chest.

With Gary Cahill taking some treatment, we’ll have five minutes of injury time. The stadium sounds like many home fans are trying to beat the traffic. Job done, they think.

Reading desperately trying to force an opening, Chelsea happy to hang back and take their chances, but they’ve given a free-kick away just in Ian Harte-range. ..

GOAL: Chelsea 4 -2 Reading (Ivanovic ’95)

That Harte free-kick I mentioned? He drilled it and it went behind for a corner. Up came Federici and narrowly missed contact with the set-piece but Chelsea cleared after the follow-up cross was pumped his way.

Torres broke clear at the edge of the box and unleashed hazard down the right. Chelsea had three attackers to Reading’s lone defender protecting the goal-line. hazard selflessly chose not to take the goal himself, squaring to Branislav Ivanovic.

Anyone want odds on him being top scorer this season, amazing engine to be in that position at the end of the game.

And that’s that folks. Sky and ESPN executives must be kicking themselves for not taking this game on live. We’ll do well to see better between a promoted side and a title-contender.

I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I did watching it, but I doubt it.

We’ll leave you with this thought on the season’s star so far. The little devil.

About the author:

Sean Farrell