Match Report: Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea - Did You Expect Anything Else?

Mike Hewitt

A familiar tale at the Stadium Of Light this afternoon as Sunderland once again allowed themselves to make a multitude of errors leading to a comfortable defeat. Somehow though there's positives to take. Or so we're lead to believe. Here's our match report

Chelsea certainly came looking to show that their bad run of form was over and came out the blocks flying with all the attack in the opening ten minutes - and in all honesty should have had the lead on at least one occasion before Fernando Torres broke the deadlock in the eleventh minute.

An early claim for a penalty was denied as Simon Mignolet made himself big and strong in the challenge to deny Juan Mata, but minutes later the Spaniard was chief tormentor again as he combined with Eden Hazard to put the ball past Mignolet, but also beyond Fernando Torres who was a little late in getting there.

Mignolet was did excellently to deny Torres what would have been a fortuateous opening goal when John O'Shea's routine clearance rebounded off Carlos Cuellar and to an unmarked Torres in the six-yard box, but the Spaniard would have the last laugh just a couple of minutes later.

It was the simplest of goals too, and one which was entirely avoidable. Eden Hazard found himself wide of goal and with little to aim for. O'Shea couldn't react to the cross quick enough having marked precisely no-one while Carlos Cuellar stood and watched as Torres arrived late into the area and guided the ball with consummate ease past Mignolet.

The visitors had deserved the lead, but it was still highly frustrating that another entirely stoppable goal wasn't... well... stopped.

Believe it or not there was a spell in the first half where we had some decent possession and a few half chances. I suppose this will be the 'positive' we're once again asked to take from the game by Martin O'Neill when his post-match email arrives in a few minutes. It wasn't all that great.

A bit of a scramble from a corner wasn't cleared well and with O'Shea and Cuellar stabbing at the ball neither could muster a shot on target. Bardsley tried from distance, while Sessegnon from a similar distance allowed Petr Cech to get his shirt dirty and pull out a stop for the cameras.

The best chance came with Adam Johnson winning back possession inside the Chelsea area, skipping to the byline and playing back for Sessegnon a yard out but Cahill was there too remove the danger. Needless to say the resulting corner was poor.

Then on half time, the game seemed effectively put to bed as Fernando Torres converted a penalty to make things 2-0 to the visitors, after sending Simon Mignolet the wrong way.

Ramires barged through into the area and after holding up his run near the byline was clattered by a reckless Seb Larsson for a stupid penalty with a stupid foul which didn't need to be made. With all disrespect due, it was the type of clumsy and needless tackle Titus Bramble makes on a regular basis.

Things didn't get much better in the second half, unsurprisingly. A cross comes in, Phil Bardsley lacking the necessary skill to control the ball under no pressure kneed it to Torres who blasted against the bar, with the rebound falling nicely to Juan Mata to score with ease.

Victor Moses nearly made things 4-0 four minutes later but having been found in acres of space inside the area the former Wigan Athletic attacker dragged his shot wide of the mark.

From then on Chelsea seemed prepared to shut up shop, and rightly so with big games on the horizon for them and the work seemingly done here. That lax attitude though eventually paid dividends for us though as Adam Johnson scored to, in he most minor of ways, restore some pride.

Connor Wickham's shot on the turn was blocked, and with no Chelsea player in any rush to clear the ball we took advantage. James McClean fed Adam Johnson who drilled across Cech and nestled the ball into the far side of the net.

O'Neill rang the changes in the effort to get us back into things with Jack Colback replacing Phil Bardsley and Louis Saha replacing Seb Larsson who'd both had absolute stinkers.

Despite some spirited attacking it all came to nothing really. Johnson - our most dangerous player by far - saw his top corner headed freekick palmed away by Cech, while he also palmed away a decent hit from Connor Wickham late on.

Perhaps the best chance in all this was a Craig Gardner freekick which rattled the crossbar as the final few seconds of play ticked past. A very good hit, but even had it gone in then it was too little too late.

The writing was however on the wall from the first ten minutes, and once again we come away with nothing. Was there positives to take? Yes, absolutely. For about 45 minutes of the game (total) we were comfortably toe-to-toe with Chelsea, and with better quality we might have clawed ourselves back into things.

The negatives once again though completely outweigh the positives, hence the scoreline. Reading this coming Tuesday was always going to be big, now with us sat in the bottom three alongside them, it looks like it could be a season defining game.

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