Adam Le Fondre was at the double again, the Reading striker coming off the subs’ bench to score twice in the final five minutes to rescue a point for the Royals and deny Chelsea two points in their race for a top four place.
In their previous league game 10 days ago, Le Fondre also scored as Reading came from 2-0 down to beat West Brom with three goals in the final eight minutes.
And the striker did it again after Juan Mata and Frank Lampard had put Chelsea in command. It was a remarkable end to a mundane game.
Rafa Benitez admitted last week the title is beyond them, but they need to finish as high as possible after going out of the Capitol One Cup semi-final last week, as well as being embarrassed by lowly Brentford in the FA Cup.
This was another listless performance, with the exception of Mata and Lampard, especially in a turgid first half.
Chelsea looked to be in one of those moods when they couldn’t do anything right, for the first 45 minutes at least.
Mata’s opening goal on the stroke of half time was the first attempt on target by either side, who seemed capable of inventing new ways to miss chances.
The worst attempt came from Fernando Torres for a shot from just inside the penalty box that went out for a throw on the left wing.
But Torres had competition from Ryan Bertrand Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill.
Reading barely managed a shot in the same period, with lone striker Pavel Pogerebnyak huffing and puffing about like a Russian bear, knocking over defenders but never threatening Ross Turnbull’s goal.
He managed a decent knockdown from Ian Harte’s deep free-kick towards the end of the first half, but Jimmy Kebe was unable to control the ball and the half-chance went begging.
Such sloppiness was to cost Reading dear as half time approached. They lost possession cheaply allowing Cole to feed the ball forward to Ramires, who moved it on to Mata. The Spaniard exchanged passes with Torres, who almost disdainfully scooped the ball into the space behind Reading’s back line, into which Mata had darted.
As soon as the little midfielder was one-to-one with Adam Federici there was only likely to be one outcome, and Mata obliged with a neat angled finish with his left foot.
Chelsea were better after the break and looked to be home and hosed when veteran Lampard doubled their lead by heading in Mata’s corner.
But Reading never gave up and produced another remarkable finish to thrill the home support.
Le Fondre gave them hope when he scored in the 89th minute, shooting inside Turnbull’s near post with a first-time shot.
And he sent the home crowd into ecstasy when he volleyed past the keeper in the third minute of stoppage time after Kebe and Hope Akpan headed on Harte’s free-kick.
READING: Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Karacan (Akpan 77), Leigertwood, Guthrie (McCleary 58), McAnuff (Le Fondre 66), Pogrebnyak.
CHELSEA: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Mata (Benayoun 77), Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Bertrand, Torres (Ba 90).
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).