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Thursday 17 April 2014

Benitez baffled by late collapse

Rafael Benitez saw Chelsea throw away a two-goal lead

Rafael Benitez was at a loss to explain his side's woeful collapse as Adam Le Fondre struck twice in the last eight minutes to help Reading snatch a draw against Chelsea.

The Blues looked set to extend their lead over fourth-placed Tottenham to six points after Juan Mata and Frank Lampard struck. Le Fondre had other ideas, however. The former Rotherham striker came on with little over 20 minutes left and beat Ross Turnbull first in the 87th minute and then 50 seconds from the end of stoppage time to hand Reading a vital point.

"It's difficult how to explain how we drew this game," the Chelsea manager said. "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."

He went on: "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."

Brian McDermott, in contrast to his shell-shocked opposite number, was a picture of joy as he talked through Le Fondre's late double strike.

"The two finishes from Alfie (Le Fondre)...," the Reading boss said before pausing for breath. "...the second one was ridiculous. It was a top, top-drawer strike, and to do it at that stage of the game..."

Le Fondre has earned the tag of super-sub after coming off the bench to score late on.in three consecutive Barclays Premier League games and McDermott insists the striker is happy with his role.

"I speak to Adam as much as I can. It's difficult for me to pick a team," McDermott said. "I do the best I can to try and get the right team to get the result.

"He's just a great bloke - that's it. He's funny, has real good banter. He trains like he wants to be the best player in training."

Press Association

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