Chelsea implodes, draws 2-2 at Reading

Chelsea squandered a two-goal lead with three minutes remaining

to draw 2-2 at Reading on Wednesday, virtually ending its English

Premier League title hopes and piling more misery on under-fire

manager Rafa Benitez.

The European champions looked certain to win after goals by

Frank Lampard and Juan Mata either side of halftime, but substitute

Adam Le Fondre scored in the 87th minute and grabbed the equalizer

in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

”It’s difficult how to explain how we drew this game,” Benitez

said. ”We were controlling the game for 85 minutes . everyone

could see the game was under control for us until the last

minute.”

Chelsea is 12 points behind league leader Manchester United in

third with 14 games remaining, and Benitez will surely come in for

more criticism with the team winning only one of its last five

matches in all competitions. On Sunday, Chelsea drew 2-2 at

third-tier Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

”We all take responsibility. We don’t blame anyone: It’s for us

to analyze why we didn’t kill the game off, and to work to stop the

mistakes,” Benitez said.

”We’re still in a really good position in the table, but it

could have been really better.”

The point lifted Reading out of the relegation zone on goal

difference ahead of Wigan, with Aston Villa dropping to second from

bottom.

Le Fondre has scored six goals as a substitute this season,

including a late double in a 2-1 win at Newcastle on Jan. 19.

”Of course I’d (like to) start with him, but I’m trying to find

a way to get results,” Reading manager Brian McDermott said.