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The new European Champions were at home for the first time since their twin trophy triumph last season, and Stamford Bridge was rocking with expectation on Wednesday night. A new look Chelsea side did not disappoint the fans as they rocketed to the top of the Premier League table with a thrilling 4-2 victory over newly promoted Reading. Frank Lampard had given Chelsea the early lead from the penalty spot but the Blues found themselves going into the break 2-1 down with Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie getting on the scoresheet, the latter courtesy a howler from Petr Cech. Adam Federici in the Reading goal returned the favour midway through the second half as Chelsea drew level. Before a contentious Fernando Torres goal put Chelsea in the lead in the 81st minute. There was time still for Branislav Ivanovic to score his 5th goal in 8 games as the Blues got a late freebie with Reading having committed almost everyone including their goalkeeper at the other end of the pitch for a corner.
Roberto di Matteo made two changes to the team that picked up a 2-0 win at the weekend against Wigan with center-back Gary Cahill and Brazilian 'Three-lungs' Ramires getting their first taste of action this season. Cahill replaced the injured David Luiz in the heart of Chelsea's defence, while Ramires came in for Ryan Bertrand. The rest of the line-up remained the same with Blues fans salivating at the prospect of seeing their 32 million pound signing Eden Hazard in action, and perhaps Brazilian starlet Oscar later on.
Reading also changed things round a bit from the side that started out against Stoke on Saturday. Gareth McCleary, who was so impressive when he came off the bench came into the side as did Jem Karacan as Brian McDermott opted to go in with just one striker in Pavel Pogrebnyak leading the line on his own with goalscorer Adam Le Fondre dropping to the bench.
The Blues were once again off to a lightning start with Hazard taking less than 2 minutes to register the first strike at goal, but the young beligan making his home debut dragged his first time effort from just inside the box wide of Federici's left hand post.
Chelsea were finding it easier to bring Reading onto them and play on the counter with Ramires the next man to be played through on goal, but the Brazilian selfishly opted to beat two defenders and shoot with his left boot instead of passing the ball to an unmarked Fernando Torres, 8 yards from goal. Federici pulled off a good save, and that gave Reading their first opportunity to register their presence with Pogrebnyak letting one rip from distance that veered well wide.
Torres was to get a chance in the 13th minute, beating three defenders, but ended up kicking air with just the goalkeeper to beat.
The goal that Chelsea's start deserved came in the 18th minute with Eden Hazard winning his second straight penalty in as many games, and Lampard doing the rest from the spot.
Chelsea's lead though lasted just about 6 minutes with Pogrebnyak drawing Reading level with a brilliant header from distance from an outstanding cross from McCleary, comfortably getting ahead of Gary Cahill and glancing his nod into the top corner across the keeper.
And Reading were in a shock lead in the 29th minute when Petr Cech committed a rare howler, letting Danny Guthrie's freekick hit him and bounce into the goal. Jobi McAnuff had won Reading the free-kick after bring brought down just outside the box by John Terry, and Guthrie's effort while dipping and pacy should really have been dealt with by Cech.
Chelsea had a couple of half-chances to draw level with John Terry heading over from a corner before Hazard lashed another effort high and wide. Reading too had a chance in between to further extend their lead with Alex Pearce just about failing to get a touch on a wicked Ian Harte free-kick. Injury time at the end of the first half saw Fernando Torres rise unmarked in the box from a Hazard cross, but the Spaniard glanced his header a foot or so wide.
The first half ended with the shock scoreline of 2-1 in favour of Reading, with Chelsea guilty of giving the ball away far too often against a Reading side who were playing some good football after the nerves had settled down a bit.
The second half was also Chelsea right from the off as the reigning European Champions parked themselves in Reading's half, who defended in numbers. In the 57th minute, Stamford Bridge got their first taste of Oscar, who came on for fellow Brazilian Ramires, which resulted in a reshuffle at the top from the Blues. The youngster had his first shot from distance in the 62nd minute, but Federici made an easy save.
Chelsea did get the equalizer in the 69th minute from the unlikely right boot of Gary Cahill, who let fly from distance, and Federici, who had committed an absolute howler against Stoke at the weekend, let another ball squirm under him as the Blues were back on level terms. It was a bitter blow for the visitors, who had thrown their bodies in the line of everything to keep Chelsea at bay for 40 minutes.
Juan Mata, who had curled some spectacular efforts wide on a number of occasions in the second half, had a considerably better chance from barely a few yards out in the 79th minute, but somehow contrived to skew his shot wide with his weaker right foot.
Chelsea were lucky to be in the lead in the 81st minute as Fernando Torres tapped the ball home into an unguarded net after Ashley Cole's cross found him unmarked at the far post. Replays though showed that Torres had been clearly standing in an offside position when the ball was played.
Chelsea had to soak up some pressure towards the end of the game, and then delivered the ultimate sucker-punch with Ivanovic tapping the ball into an empty net as the Blues broke in numbers when Reading had sent everyone including their goalkeeper forward for a corner.
The game was a thoroughly entertaining affair, and no one can ever accuse Chelsea of being boring any more. The Blues were given more of a workout than they would have liked though, and will need to be better disciplined when they entertain Newcastle United on Saturday.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Mikel (Sturridge 67'), Lampard, Ramires (Oscar 57'), Eden Hazard, Mata (Meireles 85'), Torres.
Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Romeu, Oscar, Meireles, Sturridge, Bertrand.
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Karacan (Le Fondre 71'), McAnuff, Leigertwood, Guthrie, McCleary (Robson-Kanu 86'), Pogrebnyak (Hunt 77').
Subs: McCarthy, Mariappa, Le Fondre, Hunt, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Cummings.
Score: Chelsea 3-2 Reading (Lampard 18' (p), Pogrebnyak 24', Guthrie 29', Cahill 69', Torres 81', Ivanovic 90+5')
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