Chelsea came from behind to win a pulsating encounter at the Stadium of Light by a 4-3 scoreline but it is clear that the Blues still have so much work to do, especially on the road.
Prior to this they had dropped points at Everton, Spurs, Newcastle and Man United on the road, only mustering wins against lowly Norwich and West Ham and Jose Mourinho must have feared the worst when the home side scored through Jozy Altidore after just 14 minutes.
They hit back quickly to steady the nerves, Frank Lampard having a free header after fine work from Juan Mata before the superb Eden Hazard made it 2-1 with a low strike from the edge of the area. Chelsea should have closed the game out but they continue to do things the hard way.
They struggled to find any real passing rhythm against a committed Sunderland and former Man United player John O’Shea equalised after a scramble in the 50th minute. The Black Cats had seen off Man City and Newcastle in their previous home fixtures and continued to battle hard but the superior ability of the Pensioners showed as a fine finish from Hazard made it 3-2 just after the hour mark.
Mourinho replaced the ineffectual Fernando Torres, who had earlier missed a good chance, with Demba Ba whilst Mikel later replaced Mata and it was Ba who provided the cross that led to the fourth goal. Phil Bardsley could only deflect the striker’s cross past his own keeper and at 4-2, once more, that should have been it.
However, just two minutes later Bardsley notched at the right end to make it 4-3 but with just four minutes left it was too little too late and Chelsea hung on to take the three points.
Mourinho’s men might not be doing things the easy way but they remain second in the league and have now won three league games on the bounce. They were very thankful to Hazard here but ultimately deserved the victory and will hope for an improved performance in their next game at Stoke, though the Potters never make things easy at the Britannia. Our preview of that one will be coming soon.