READING were edged out in a thrilling spectacle at the Madejski Stadium as they played their final pre-season match before their Championship opener next weekend.
Josh Barrett gave the Royals the lead with a spectacular lob before Ross Barkley levelled with a superb free-kick. The goals kept flowing in the second half as two from Mason Mount sealed a narrow Chelsea win despite a debut goal for Michael Morrison.
Liam Moore came close to breaking the deadlock as he met John Swift’s swinging free-kick but his header grazed the outside of the post before going out for a goal kick.
Reading took the lead with 15 minutes on the clock through academy graduate Josh Barrett. His initial effort was blocked but the ball fell back to his feet and he beautifully looped the ball over Willy Caballero into the corner to give the Royals the lead.
Chelsea’s first big opening of the match fell to Tiemoue Bakayoko as Davide Zappacosta cut the ball back for the midfielder but he blazed his effort well off target.
Ross Barkley equalised for the visitors with a delicious free-kick just over five minutes since Barrett opened the scoring. He lifted the ball over the wall and bent it superbly out of the reach of Joao Virginia to find the top corner.
The Royals continued to look quick on the counter with Mo Barrow, Yakou Meite and Danny Loader all breaking away at pace. Loader worked an opening just inside the box but from a tight angle, he put his effort high and wide.
Jose Gomes may have an injury blow to deal with just a week before Reading’s Championship opener as Tyler Blackett had to be replaced by Omar Richards at left-back.
Kenedy almost punished Reading as they surrendered possession deep inside their own half but his effort was deflected behind for a corner as half-time approached.
But the Brazilian didn’t have to wait long for another chance and this time he seized his opportunity, as Kenedy beat Virginia with a low drive as the Reading keeper could only help it into the bottom corner.
There were changes aplenty at the break as Jose Gomes made ten substituions while Frank Lampard changed his whole Chelsea side.
Just minutes after the restart, Reading put themselves back on level terms as Michael Morrison combined with fellow new signing Charlie Adam to head in from a corner on his Madejski debut.
Chelsea continued to create chances and almost went back in front through an outrageous David Luiz effort. The centre back swiveled before curling the ball on his left foot but his effort cannoned back off the crossbar.
The Europa League holders re-took the lead in the 58th minute as Tammy Abraham sprinted away from Adam, and the ball fell for Mason Mount who put his effort past Walker into the corner just outside of the box.
Mount then bagged a second goal and Chelsea’s fourth as goalkeeper Sam Walker hit a misplaced pass straight to Abraham whose touch fell to Mount for the simplest of tap ins.
The goals kept flowing as Reading fought back to make it 4-3. Michael Olise slid the ball through for Sam Baldock who slotted his finish past Jamie Cumming.
Chelsea went close again as Abraham improvised an acrobatic effort from a corner and despite not getting much power behind his effort he forced a corner from Walker who saw the ball late through a crowd of bodies.
The match finished 4-3 in a thoroughly entertaining afternoon at the Madejski Stadium. The Royals now have six days until they host Sheffield Wednesday on the opening weekend of the Championship season.
Reading first-half: Virginia, Yiadom, Moore (c), McIntyre, Blackett, Rinomhota, Barrett, Swift, Loader, Meite, Barrow.
Reading second-half: Walker, Howe, Miazga, Morrison, Richards, Adam, Holsgrove, East, Watson, Novakovich, Baldock.
Chelsea first-half: Caballero, Alonso, Christiensen, Tomori, Zappacosta, Bakayoko, Barkley, Drinkwater, Kenedy, Giroud, Pulisic.
Chelsea second-half: Cumming, Azpilcueta, Zouma, David Luiz, Emerson, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Pedro, Abraham, Batshuayi.
Goals: Barrett (13), Barkley (22), Kenedy (42), Morrison (49), Mount (57, 60), Baldock (71)