Sunderland 0 Chelsea 0  (Sky Sports)

Cudicini Spot On To Deny Sunderland

Carlo Cudicini
Cudicini: fine display for Chelsea

Sunderland  0-0 Chelsea 
FA Barclaycard Premiership

Andy Clarke reporting

Chelsea's ninth Premiership draw of the season owed everything to a wonderful display by Carlo Cudicini, who produced three excellent saves to keep Sunderland at bay.

The Italian keeper had already produced a diving one-handed save to spare William Gallas' blushes when he headed towards his own goal, when Sunderland were awarded a penalty for a pull by Celestine Babayaro on Kevin Kilbane.

Kevin Phillips, usually so reliable from the penalty spot, struck his shot to Cudicini's right, only for the Chelsea keeper to dive full length to push the ball to safety.

Just moments later Cudicini thwarted the England striker again, clearing a downward header from Kilbane's cross with his legs.

Phillips soon completed a hat-trick of near misses, reacting quickest to Julio Arca's smart free-kick only to flick a header inches wide of the post.

After soaking up everything Sunderland had to offer, the visitors almost conjured up a late winner, only for Slavisa Jokanovic's close range effort to be ruled out after Mario Melchiot was adjudged to have impeded Thomas Sorensen.

Referee Neale Barry's decision was particularly harsh on the Dutch international, who had positioned himself in Sorensen's path at a corner. Frank Sinclair against Peter Schmeichel it was not.

Chelsea, who have now kept five clean sheets in six matches, had made the brighter start to the game, with Darren Williams twice making superb saving tackles to prevent Eidur Gudjohnsen from opening the scoring.

Mario Stanic also went close for the visitors in the early exchanges, but he was well closed down by Emerson Thome and snatched at his shot.

Then after Phillips had tested Cudicini with a dipping volley from 25 yards, Sunderland provided most of the attacking threat.

However, on the handful of occasions when Chelsea's defence was breached, Cudicini came to the rescue.

Man of the Match: Carlo Cudicini (Chelsea) Three stunning saves helped the Italian keep his seventh clean sheet in eight appearances this season.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Gray, Williams, Thome, McCartney, Arca, Thirlwell, McCann, Kilbane, Laslandes (Quinn 68), Phillips.
Subs Not Used: Macho, Butler, Clark, Schwarz.
Booked: Arca.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Babayaro, Terry, Gallas, Melchiot, Stanic, Jokanovic, Dalla Bona, Lampard, Hasselbaink, Gudjohnsen (Forssell 89).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Zola, Keenan, Slatter.
Booked: Stanic, Dalla Bona, Jokanovic.

Att: 48,017

Ref: N Barry (Scunthorpe)

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