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Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea


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scoreboard.jpgTuesday 18th August 2009, FA Premier League, Stadium of Light, Sunderland

A terrific second-half performance from Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea saw the Blues beat Sunderland to go top of the Premier League.

Italian coach Ancelotti has won both of his opening fixtures in English football as well as a Community Shield triumph over Manchester United, and a devastating second half display was underlined with goals from Frank Lampard, Deco and Michael Ballack. It was the German who opened the scoring for Chelsea, volleying home after Branislav Ivanovic had flicked on a Lampard corner to cancel out Darren Bent's opening goal for the hosts, and Lampard converted a penalty after Didier Drogba was hacked down in the penalty area. Deco then capped off a wonderfully-crafted Chelsea move with a stunning finish past Martin Fulop to secure the three points for the West London outfit; putting Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.

Electing to make four changes from the side that started the weekend win against Hull City, Ancelotti drafted in Michael Ballack, Deco, Salomon Kalou and Branislav Ivanovic into his starting eleven, with Nicolas Anelka, John Mikel Obi, Florent Malouda and Ricardo Carvalho all relegated to the bench. Ancelotti also made another significant change by fielding an alternative system to the diamond midfield that had been the subject of Chelsea's strong early-season form, instead choosing to see his side play in a 4-3-3 formation, with Deco and Kalou playing behind Didier Drogba.

And the change in system almost paid immediate dividends when Lampard shot high and wide after promising attacking play. At the other end, Sunderland shot wide through record signing Darren Bent, but it was Chelsea who dominated the early attacking play with some excellent, free-flowing football. Jose Bosingwa then fired in a devilish cross with Michael Essien could only turn wide, before Deco shot wide from 35 yards.

But like against the Tigers on Saturday, an air of good luck for the opposition was apparent as Sunderland took the lead thanks to the most fortunate of ricochets. Kenwyne Jones' low effort deflected off of the right boot of John Terry, and the ball broke free to Bent, who clinically finished past an approaching Cech in a goal that was all to similar to the strike he recorded against the Blues for Tottenham in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last term. The goal was well-taken by Bent, but without doubt against the run of play.

Michael Ballack then tried his luck with two efforts; the latter of which was somehow cleared off the line by Lee Cattermole. The German shot goalwards from 30 yards but his effort was high and wide, before finally hitting the target, only to see it blocked on the line by the former Wigan midfielder. Deco then threatened to find Kalou with a disguised through-ball, but Fulop was alive to the danger and grasped the ball as Kalou looked to pounce.

The first half then dissipated into a disappointing encounter with both teams taking their feet off of the gas. Sunderland were defending resolutely and denying Chelsea any possession in their talented midfield, with former Marseille midfielder Lorik Cana excelling at the heart of the Black Cats' formation. The second half was much better from a Chelsea perspective, however, and early chances for Ashley Cole and Drogba were an indication of the half's progress.

Lampard thumped an effort into the side-netting before Drogba powered a header inches over the bar as Chelsea looked for an equalising goal. Cole then saw a header deflected wide of Fulop's upright for the first of several consecutive corners; from one of which Ballack struck. Lampard's delivery was instinctively flicked on by Ivanovic at the front post, and Ballack was on hand to steer the ball home with a well-timed low volley that Fulop could do nothing about.

Former West Ham left-back George McCartney had his head in his hands moments later as he felled Drogba in the box after a marauding run by the Ivorian talisman. Lampard stepped up to take the penalty and confidently stroked the penalty home despite the best efforts of Fulop, who had done well to guess which way the England midfielder would aim the kick. The goal was Lampard one-hundred-and-thirty-second for the club; putting him level with Jimmy Greaves as the club's fifth-highest goalscorer of all-time. Not bad for a midfielder.

With Chelsea on the rampage, Ashley Cole crossed for Drogba who headed the ball into the ground and over the bar - it was simply not to be Didier's day. The Ivorian would soon be substituted for Danny Sturridge to enter the fray to make his Chelsea bow, but only after joining Lampard, Ballack and Jose Bosingwa in setting up Deco to finish off a beautifully-crafted third goal. Deco's finish was delightful; the Portuguese bending the ball in off the post with an acute finish on the outside of his boot.

Andrei Shevchenko joined the action late on, earning him a massive cheer from the Chelsea faithful as Sturridge had a late snap-shot whistle wide of the post. The referee sounded his whistle to confirm a fruitful and deserved Chelsea victory, putting Ancelotti's side top of the Premier League.

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Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry ©, A Cole; Ballack, Essien, Lampard; Kalou (Malouda), Deco (Shevchenko); Drogba (Sturridge)

Sunderland (4-4-2): Fulop; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Collins ©, McCartney; Henderson, Cana, Cattermole (Leadbitter), Richardson (Reid); Bent, Jones (Campbell).

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 20; Anderson Deco

Sunderland-Deco.jpg

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"With Chelsea on the rampage, Ashley Cole crossed for Drogba who headed the ball into the ground and over the bar - it was simply not to be Didier's day."

Only because the scumbag defender pushed him over. Should have been a pen.

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