Chelsea rallies to beat newcomer Reading
LONDON -- Fernando Torres scored the go-ahead goal from what appeared to be an offside position in the 81st minute, helping European champion Chelsea rally past Reading 4-2 in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
The unmarked Torres tapped the ball into the net from Ashley Cole's cross for a 3-2 lead. Torres didn't get his first league goal last season until Sept. 18 and he finished with just six.
"It was clearly offside, which was really disappointing," said Reading manager Brian McDermott, who protested to the referee's assistant. "It's just a shame he has made a mistake for such a crucial goal."
But there was no disputing the fourth in the fifth minute of stoppage time. As Reading pushed forward in search of an equalizer, Eden Hazard broke free on a counterattack and set up Branislav Ivanovic for a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Torres' goal made it two wins out of two for Roberto Di Matteo's side in their first home match since winning the Champions League for the first time. That victory over Bayern Munich -- coupled with the FA Cup final win in May -- glossed over Chelsea's sixth-place finish in the Premier League and secured the manager's job on a full-time basis for Di Matteo.
Freshening up the squad over the offseason has seen Chelsea burst into life at the start of the new campaign.
And it is Hazard at the heart of their newfound vigor, helping to set up two goals on Wednesday just as he did in the 2-0 victory at Wigan on Sunday in the opening match of the season.
For the first 25 minutes, it was the Chelsea show, with Hazard showing the skills that Tuesday saw the Chelsea manager label him an "artist."
"He certainly has an impact on our team, and he and Juan Mata linked up very well," Di Matteo said. "He's finding his feet very quickly, which is pleasing for us. ... Everyone wants to see a lot of flair players but to win the game you have to have balance."
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 tonight had he not put Mata's through-ball wide.
Hazard, Mata and Ramires were constantly on the move behind Torres and more fine football saw the latter force a good stop from Federici.
Hazard won a penalty for the second successive game when he was brought down by Chris Gunter, and Lampard tucked the spot kick into the bottom left of the net.
Chelsea was in control, and looked set to coast to the win.
But against the run of play, Garath McCleary whipped a cross into the penalty area for Pogrebnyak to race onto ahead of Terry and send a low header past Petr Cech in the 25th.
And Cech was beaten again four minutes later, and this time he was at fault. The goalkeeper blocked Guthrie's free kick with his chest, but allowed the ball to squirm past him into the net.
It gave Reading the confidence to play with more verve and they found the space to trouble a Chelsea side that became increasingly subdued.
The visitors could have been further ahead, but Alex Pearce was unable to connect with Ian Harte's free kick.
Torres was as wasteful, sending a header way off target from Hazard's cross before the break.
Di Matteo rang in the changes during the second half with Oscar replacing Ramires and the arrival of Daniel Sturridge in place of John Obi Mikel giving Chelsea more of an attacking impetus.
It paid off, with Cahill equalizing before Torres and Ivanovic struck to ensure Chelsea prevailed in the clash of the Champions League and League Championship winners.
Information from The Associated Press and Press Association contributed to this report.