A baffled Spaniard was greeted by merciless media at end of the woeful performance from a Champions League winning side last night. Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez was unable to give strong reasons behind his sides woeful collapse to Reading.
Two late goals from Adam Le Fondre in the last eight minutes of the game helped Reading grab an unlikely 2-2 draw against Chelsea. The Blues were keen on extending their lead over fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur following goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard in both halves of the game, but fate had a very different script for the night.
Adam Le Fondre, who was introduced in the 67th minute of the game in place of Jobi McAnuff, scored Reading’s first goal three minutes from injury and scored the second in the dying seconds of the game. This is was the third consecutive time Adam Le Fondre has come off the bench to score in a Premier League game.
“It's difficult how to explain how we drew this game,” Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez said in his post-match news conference. “We were controlling the game for 85 minutes, and even when they started playing long balls in the last 10 minutes we were still in control.
“We can say that we have to be more clinical, and be better at defending set-pieces, but we've been doing a professional, perfect job for 85 minutes. They had their first shot after 78 minutes. Everybody had the same feeling. Everyone could see the game was under control for us until the last minute.”
The easiest way to explain Chelsea’s misfortunes can be done with words such as ‘over-confidence’ and ‘sloppiness’. Perhaps, ‘complacency’ is the best word to describe Chelsea’s performance against Reading.
Meanwhile, Adam Le Fondre’s impressive performance should not go out without appreciation. The 26-year-old has now scored 12 goals in 24 games for Reading this season.
Rafael Benitez, who is still relying on Fernando Torres to score, refused to criticize his defense even though they left three players unmarked on the back-post when the last goal was scored. Instead, the former Liverpool manager claimed his side was steadily improving into a stronger unit.
“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,” Rafael Benitez said. “We're still in a really good position in the table, but it could have been really better.
“We are improving a lot. We did an exercise with corners and free-kicks yesterday and it was fine. Today for 85 minutes it was perfect.”