Sunderland recorded a stunning 2-1 win away at Chelsea on Saturday, as the Black Cats came from behind to secure a crucial three points in their fight against relegation.
As for Chelsea, their title dreams now lie in tatters as Jose Mourinho saw his unbeaten Premier League record at home ended after 77 games without defeat.
It all started so well for the Blues, who went 1-0 up thanks to Samuel Eto’o’s early volley but then Connor Wickham equalized after 18 minutes as stand-in ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer could only parry a shot into the path of Wickham who cleaned up.
Chelsea huffed and puffed throughout the remainder of the game but couldn’t break down a stubborn Sunderland and the pivotal moment of the game arrived in the 82nd minute. U.S. international striker Jozy Altidore came off the bench and won a penalty kick after being brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta with the linesman flagging and Mike Dean pointing to the spot. Fabio Borini, on loan from Liverpool, struck the spot kick straight down the middle to hand his parent club the initiative in the title race and leave Mourinho and Chelsea stunned.
With the win Sunderland are still bottom of the PL standings but are just three points from safety, while Chelsea are in second but are two points behind leaders Liverpool after playing a game more. Incredible drama in West London.
Chelsea started brightly at Stamford Bridge, yet the first real chance of the game fell to one of their former strikers, Borini, but the Italian forward on-loan from Liverpool smashed his effort wide of the far post from distance. Despite an even start to the match, Chelsea went 1-0 up after 12 minutes when Willian’s corner found Eto’o in the six-yard box and the Cameroonian striker volleyed the ball home to put the Blues in front.
Yet despite that perfect start for the title-chasers, Sunderland were level six minutes later. A corner kick routine found Marcos Alonso on the edge of the box and his low drive could only be parried by Chelsea’s stand-in ‘keeper Schwarzer, as Wickham cleaned up to net his third goal in two games.
Chelsea bossed the rest of the first half in terms of possession, as Sunderland sat back and were happy to stay level. Oscar curled a shot straight at Vito Mannone midway through the half as the Blues struggled to break down the Red and White wall before them. A long free kick to the back post saw Nemanja Matic head the ball back across goal for John Terry to volley home, but the linesman raised his flag for a foul on Jack Colback by Matic, which looked extremely harsh.
In the 36th minute Chelsea almost went back in front as another left wing corner found Branislav Ivanovic in the six-yard box but the Serbian’s downward header was tipped onto the bar by Mannone who gathered the ball at the second attempt. As half time approached Chelsea continued to press as Matic saw his long-range effort saved by Mannone, who then saved Mohamed Salah’s follow up as Chelsea piled on the pressure. Moments later Manonne missed a cross but Ramires failed to direct his header on goal when under pressure from Sebastian Larsson.
After the break Chelsea showed off their sublime counter-attacking nous as Willian set up Eto’o on the left hand side of the box but the Blues striker sent his effort just wide of the far post. Sunderland were content to sit back and hold on to the point they had, as Chelsea chucked the kitchen sink at their opponents. With 30 minutes to go Demba Ba arrived on the pitch, as the superb sub was tasked with digging Chelsea out of the hole they’d got themselves in.
Sunderland were holding firm and stopping the Blues from creating any clear cut chances as Ba slipped when latching onto a pull back and skewed his effort horribly wide. With 25 minutes to go U.S. national team striker Altidore came on to try and nick an invaluable winner for Sunderland in their battle against relegation.
Altidore played a pivotal role in proceedings as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box, ran towards goal and was brought down by Azpilicueta for a penalty. Both players seemed to slip, but Dean pointed to the spot and Borini slammed home the penalty to seal a vital win for Sunderland which leaves Chelsea’s title hopes in ruins.
Goal: Eto’o (12′)
Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Johnson (Giaccherini, 66′), Borini, Wickham (Altidore, 66′)
Goals: Wickham (18′), Borini (82′)