Blues Overcome Black Cats (Sky Sports)
Sunderland 1 Chelsea 2
Ten-man Chelsea overcame a spirited Sunderland 2-1 at The Stadium of Light to register their tenth straight Premiership victory.
The Black Cats had gone ahead thanks to Liam Lawrence's sweetly struck volley, but Mick McCarthy's men could not hang on.
Hernan Crespo headed home the leveller, but controversy reigned as Arjen Robben's fired home a deflected effort - but was then shown a second yellow card for his resulting celebrations - meaning Chelsea had to play out the final 20 minutes a man down.
Sunderland made sure Chelsea knew they were in a contest from the first whistle and Jon Stead fired the first warning after three minutes, but his well-struck effort flew straight to Petr Cech.
Chelsea were being limited to long-range efforts, with Frank Lampard trying his luck on three occasions - all of which flew wide of Kelvin Davis's goal.
The home side's bright start was rewarded 12 minutes in when they took the lead through Lawrence.
The chance came as the normally unflappable John Terry headed Julio Arca's cross down into Lawrence's path - and the former Mansfield man slammed the ball into the net.
Chelsea stirred, but were far from top gear - although Crespo should have levelled from just six yards when Lampard's shot deflected into his path, but the Argentine fluffed his lines and Davis collected with ease.
However, with his next chance, Crespo made no mistake as he levelled on the half hour mark as he headed home from just a yard out. Joe Cole had somehow managed to keep William Gallas's cross in-play and he headed the back for Crespo, who was left with simplest of tasks to convert.
Sunderland managed to survive Chelsea's dominance of possession for the rest of the half and deservedly went in level at the break, but they could easily have snatched the lead once again just before the interval.
The culprit was Anthony Le Tallec who, when unmarked 10 yards from goal, headed Arca's pinpoint cross straight at Cech.
Chelsea began the second half the better and Davis had to be at his best to palm away Crespo's curling effort and then just moments later he was called upon to hold a Cole drive.
Davis was becoming busier and busier, and again he did wonderfully well to keep Crespo at bay - this time it was from point-blank range following Asier Del Horno's well-flighted cross, and somehow he managed to get a hand to the Chelsea star's header.
Then Lampard again tried his luck, but Davis was equal to it once more, as he was for Robben - whose effort sneaked under the Sunderland number one, but luckily for the former Ipswich man his back-tracking defence scrambled clear after he managed to get something on the Dutchman's strike.
Chelsea, from nothing, had now stepped into top gear and were laying siege to Sunderland's box, but the home side defended resolutely and managed to safely oversee a frantic period.
Damien Duff was introduced at the expense of Joe Cole and Jose Mourinho looked for more from his champions.
With 20 minutes to go Sunderland's resistance was broken and it was in unfortunate circumstances as Robben's vicious drive was inadvertently deflected past Davis by Dean Whitehead.
That was, though, the last contribution Robben would make as referee Chris Foy handed him a second yellow card for his exuberant celebrations which saw him dive into the crowd.
The decision was by the book, but given that his first yellow was very harsh - the Dutch winger will feel harshly treated.
Despite going behind, Sunderland still pushed forward and Le Tallec again had a headed opportunity, but it was too close to Cech who grasped it.
Sunderland were then asking Mr Foy for a penalty as Ricardo Carvalho grappled with Andy Gray - but the referee was having none of it.
Substitute Carlton Cole then took his turn to test Davis, but the Sunderland keeper got down well for umpteenth time of a busy day - which ultimately ended in disappointment as Chelsea clinched victory.
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||12|
|2||Shots off Target||8|
Davis, Breen, Caldwell, Collins, Hoyte, Arca,
Lawrence, Miller, Whitehead, Le Tallec (Gray 81), Stead (Murphy 81)
Subs Not Used Alnwick, Nosworthy, Bassila, Gray, Murphy
Goals Lawrence 12
Cech, Del Horno, Gallas, Carvalho, Terry, J. Cole
(Duff 63), Lampard, Makelele, Crespo (C. Cole 72), Gudjohnsen (Huth 83), Robben
Subs Not Used Cudicini, Diarra
Booked Robben, C. Cole
Sent Off Robben
Goals Crespo 28, Robben 69
Referee C. Foy