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Euro Stars Chelsea nearly derailed

VITAL GOAL: Fernando Torres (centre) in action against luckless Reading

A HUGE slice of luck ensured that European champions Chelsea beat Reading 4-2 and take all three points at Stamford Bridge tonight (August 22).

Fernando Torres, a yard offside when he struck in the 81st minute, saved the home side’s early season blushes after a cross from Ashley Cole helped to create the decisive third goal.

Reading will feel hard done by after a fantastic effort in west London. It was shirt sleeve weather as the match kicked off and Chelsea started off in blistering fashion with £32 million acquisition Eden Hazard central to most things.

The Belgian international shot narrowly wide after just two minutes after a Juan Mata inspired breakaway.

Reading custodian Adam Frederici, guilty of an opening day howler that will live for him for some time, restored some of his confidence with a fine save from Ramires on seven minutes after Branislav Ivanovic led the charge on the Reading goal.

But the away side were not to be intimidated and striker Pavel Pogrebnyak had a good effort on eight minutes.

A simmering encounter almost came to the boil when Torres jinked his way past Reading’s Jem Karacan and Kaspers Gorkss before miskicking in the 13th minute.

But the lively Hazard was to gain reward for his stylish play in the 18th minute. Aptly named, the Chelsea man was up to his tricks again and forced Reading defender Chris Gunter into a rash tackle. Penalty. Frank Lampard adroitly converted the spot kick.

But Reading showed their guts and carved out an equaliser six minutes later when hardworking winger Gareth McCleary fired in a right wing cross which was neatly nodded home by the giant Pogrebnyak.

Stamford Bridge was to fall silent again in the 29th minute after a John Terry foul on Jobi McAnuff just outside the box. Free kick to Reading. The challenge deserved a yellow card but there was greater punishment to come. The normally reliable Chelsea ‘keeper Peter Cech fumbled Danny Guthrie’s free kick with the ball bobbling into the home net.

A speculative Gary Cahill long range effort on 69 minutes restored parity for the Blues but Frederici will once again feel that he could have done better.

Torres was to put the hosts in the ascendency with his controversial effort and a Ivanovic tap in, after another rapid Chelsea raid in the dying seconds, put Chelsea 4-2 up.

After the effort they had put in, the away side deserved better. Reading boss Brian McDermott can feel proud of his troops but ultimately they left London pointless.

As for Chelsea, playing a free-flowing brand of football that their fans have craved for years, they will simply breathe a sigh of relief.

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