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Magnificent Anelka throws down gauntlet to Torres


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Sunderland 2-4 Chelsea

Tuesday 01 February 2011, the FA Premier League, the Stadium of Light


Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou, John Terry and Nicolas Anelka scored as Chelsea recorded a third straight victory in the Premier League in stunning style.

In what was possibly the best game of top-flight football this season so far, Steve Bruce's dogged Sunderland side took an early lead when Phil Bardsley powered home a shot beyond Petr Cech after just four minutes - but Chelsea reduced the arrears when Frank Lampard duly dispatched a penalty kick beyond the outstanding Craig Gordon, before Salomon Kalou vindicated his selection with a well-taken goal beyond the onrushing Black Cats goalkeeper.

However Kieron Richardson restored parity with a low free-kick, but a splendid second half onslaught on the hosts' goal - led by the brilliant Nicolas Anelka - saw John Terry put Chelsea ahead in emphatic fashion before the scoring was concluded by the Frenchman himself; the stand-out performer of the game intelligently flicking the ball beyond the despairing dive of Gordon to secure the points for the West Londoners.

Not only does the result demonstrate the re-emergence of Chelsea's resilience and their attacking potency - with an impressive eighteen goals registered in the last five games a remarkable return - but it also ensures Carlo Ancelotti's side apply the pressure on third-placed Manchester City, who now sit above the Blues merely by the virtue of one additional point. Blues supporters will also feel particularly happy about the victory considering the 3-0 hammering their side suffered at the hands of tonight's opponents - that particular result sufficiently avenged as the champions recorded a sixth consecutive victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, which, like the Reebok, has become a home-away-from-home for Chelsea.

But what will be most pleasing for Ancelotti - and Roman Abramovich, considering he spent £71 million yesterday evening on two of the world's foremost footballing talents; Fernando Torres and David Luiz - was the true majesty of the club's best away performance for some time, and the way in which the starting eleven recovered from an early set-back was as composed as it was impressive. And whilst every player should take the plaudits for what was ultimately an excellent team performance, Anelka was head and shoulders above his peers; capped off by his stoppage time strike.

With the signing of £50 million Fernando Torres not completed soon enough for the Spaniard to take any part in this encounter, Carlo Ancelotti rewarded Salomon Kalou for his goal at Goodison Park on Saturday with a starting berth alongside Didier Drogba, with Anelka given a free role between the two forwards in a more creative position for the Frenchman. John Mikel Obi replaced the rested Ramires in the only other change in personnel from the Everton FA Cup match, as Florent Malouda was relegated to the bench.

And but for Chelsea's embarrassment on riches - present or otherwise in the case of Torres and Luiz - it was the hosts who took an early lead following an early exchange of blows, with Phil Bardsley's low shot evading the unsighted Petr Cech; off guard after seeing the Scot's shot only when it was too late to intervene.

The opening goal did rouse the vocal home support but served to only galvanise the inspired Chelsea players, and after first seeing Anelka denied by a brave block by Anton Ferdinand and Frank Lampard uncharacteristically blasting an angled shot wide of the far post, the Blues did eventually level matters with a quarter-hour played. Ashley Cole was unfairly checked by Elmohamady, and Lampard duly blasted the resultant penalty kick into the roof of the net with aplomb for his fifth strike of the season.

Seizing the initiative, it was Anelka who crafted a quick-fire second goal for Chelsea; the Frenchman threading through Kalou, who dispatched the ball past the onrushing Sunderland goalkeeper. That lead was short-lived, however, as Sunderland equalised when Chelsea's defensive wall jumped over a low Richardson free-kick; the ex-Manchester United player levelling matters on 24 minutes.

As far as the scoring was concerned, that was it for the first period - but the attacking intent of both teams was still evident as both Sunderland and Chelsea players piled forward looking for what could prove to be a crucial third goal. Nevertheless, the second half did not only see a continuation of the magnificent, flowing, end-to-end affair that had made the first period such enjoyable viewing, but it also demonstrated Chelsea stepping up to the fore and taking the issue to their defiant hosts.

Frank Lampard was enjoying the sort of performance that had seen him score 27 goals in a prolific campaign last term, and after netting his fifth of an injury-stricken season in the first half, the England star was certainly enjoying his football once again. It was he and Anelka who lead the Chelsea charge; Lampard instrumental with his distribution and Anelka's creativity and unpredictability in the centre of the park bringing both Blues full-backs into the thick of the action.

Sunderland were temporarily camped inside their own penalty area as Ancelotti's charges pressed forward for a third goal, and after Lampard was twice denied inside the box, first by a smart Craig Gordon save and the second a crucial intervention from by a Sunderland defender. Michael Essien had forced a brilliant save out of the inspired home goalkeeper late on in the first period, and he again found the Scot a difficult obstacle to beat as his close range effort was well held by the former Hearts man.

But Gordon was helpless to prevent Chelsea from taking a deserved lead just after the hour; a lead delivered by their talismanic skipper John Terry. After Drogba's corner had been cleared as far as Lamaprd, the Scottish goalkeeper did brilliantly to react to the Chelsea man's stunning, dipping volley, but he was powerless to prevent Terry looping the ball into the goal from close range. It was a quality finish from ten yards that a watching Fernando Torres would have been pleased with - and suddenly Sunderland were against the ropes.

Further Chelsea pressure saw Kalou smash the ball against both posts with a single shot - Anelka's threaded through-ball finding the Ivorian, who could only look on with a coy smile as his effort hit the inside of both uprights before spinning away from the goalmouth. The woodwork was proving a formidable obstacle for Chelsea, who had earlier seen Branislav Ivanovic hammer the ball against the bar, but perhaps even more so for Kalou, who could couple his misfortune with a painful collision with the post earlier in the game.

He soon departed the action as Sunderland began to press, and Florent Malouda came on in his place whilst the injured John Mikel Obi - who, in fairness, had not enjoyed one of his better evenings in royal blue - was replaced by the fierce determination and drive of the ever-energetic Brazilian Ramires. The hosts sensed that due to Gordon's heroics and the benefit of a sturdy goalframe that they were still in with a shout of sharing the spoils - but whilst Asamoah Gyan headed wide and Richardson forced a low save out of Cech, there was little to show from the Black Coats, who probed without truly threatening Cech's goal to the extent their expectant home support demanded.

Their commitment to attack throughout had evidently tired the home side, who bravely pushed on looking for a late equaliser. However, Chelsea - more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure - had the hosts where they wanted them, and countered through Malouda in stoppage time, with the Frenchman supplying compatriot Anelka for the game-clinching goal, and the just reward for a truly dazzling performance from Chelsea's number 39.

Manchester United's luck may seem endless, but Chelsea's defence of their title is at least back on - and perhaps more importantly, Tottenham are nowhere in sight.


Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Gordon; Onuoha (Cook 87), Bramble ©, Ferdinand, Bardsley; Elmohamady, Henderson, Malbranque (Colback 81), Sessegnon; Richardson; Gyan.

Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Ferreira 90+1), Ivanovic, JT © Cole; Essien, Mikel (Ramires 75), Lampard; Kalou (Malouda 81), Anelka; Drogba.

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 39, NICOLAS ANELKA

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Brilliant summary once again, got the main points in well :)

Have to say, Gordon was incredible! We could have easily had 2 or 3 more had he not been there. The man has great reflexes and is very intelligent, certainly makes a step up from Martin Fulop :lol:

The beauty of this is it was orchestrated without those 2 crucial signings, just imagine what we can do with them!


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I'd say the penalty may have been soft - but in the end it made up for another couple of occasions where we should have been given a penalty for hand-ball. At the end of the day, we were by far the better team and I'd go as far as saying that was our best performance of the season.

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So far, game of the season for me. So many brilliant performances. I just kinda feel sorry for Petr Cech who couldn't do anything with both conceded goals. However finally his team-mates proved to be his team-mates and fought back, twice.

Lampard was pretty unlucky as well, so many solid chances from his favourite position but either Gordon or some quality block denied him. Next time Frankie, against Scousers :eyebrows:

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The contrast between this match and the reverse fixture was unbelievable.

Tell you what when Kalou hit both posts i feared the worst but great spirit from the lads and a well deserved 3 points.

8 goals in 2 games and Fernando Torres to come :smiliecap1:

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Hah, cheers pal. I have to say the match reports on our site are very clumsily written, very little analysis. The way I've written them has never been formulaic, for instance they used to be very long and in-depth, whereas now they are far more succinct but a more subtle blend of description and analysis too. Thanks for the compliment though, much appreciated. :)

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Top report BL %28Y%29.gif

Had major agg last night trying to find a decent link to watch the game,so eventually gave up and waited for Sky's highlights.

Anelka was first class,compared to the unusally anonymous Drogba.Mikel once again proved to be a liability,i could hear the sighs of relief myself when he was eventually replaced by Ramires.JT,emperious as always and took his goal well.

Real end to end stuff,credit to Sunderland for giving us a game.Maybe a game that we really needed to show once and for all the 'crisis' is over.

Roll on Sunday.

Come on the Chels!!.

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