Eden Hazard’s brace inspires Chelsea win at Sunderland
Goals secure ninth successive win for Londoners at Stadium of Light
Eden Hazard scores his second goal for Chelsea against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last night. Photograph: Paul Thomas/Getty Images.
Sunderland 3 Chelsea 4
Eden Hazard ensured it was business as usual for Chelsea last night, scoring twice and creating another goal for Frank Lampard as they won at Sunderland for the ninth successive time.
Hazard was irrepressible as they equalled the top division’s record of away victories against the same opponents but this was not as straightforward as other successes during their dominance on Wearside.
Jozy Altidore and John O’Shea exposed failings in Chelsea’s defence with goals, while Phil Bardsley added their third goal just two minutes after scoring Chelsea’s fourth with his own goal.
Chelsea’s stranglehold over Sunderland had no meaningful influence on this match since many of the players involved last night were still at school when Chelsea won the first of those successive victories here.
And, if they were aware of the statistic, there was certainly no inferiority complex evident among the Sunderland players in the early stages. They went back to the bottom of Premier League 24 hours earlier when Crystal Palace won, but were ahead within 14 minutes last night.
Chelsea looked to have escaped when a free-kick from a dangerous position on the edge of the area was blocked, but Jack Colback found Altidore from the rebound. With a confidence not warranted by his solitary goal this season, the American international took advantage of the generous space he was given by Gary Cahill to turn and score into the bottom corner.
Chelsea’s only attacking response in the opening stages was a wayward shot from Lampard, who was to score the equaliser in the 17th minute in a manner that would have concerned Gus Poyet, whose reaction to his team’s goal had been subdued. Perhaps the man who played 110 times in three seasons at Chelsea sensed what lay ahead because Sunderland’s defence was opened up alarmingly as Lampard was left unmarked in front of goal to head in Hazard’s cross.
Poyet still had to be encouraged by both his team’s reaction to the equaliser and continuing uncertainty in the Chelsea back four, seen again in a 31st-minute misunderstanding between Cahill and John Terry. The ball eventually reached Andrea Dossena, whose powerful angled shot was probably swerving wide before Petr Cech made sure.
Chelsea led from the 36th minute through Hazard, the creator of their first goal. This time, he only needed the distraction of an overlap from Cesar Azpilicueta, again keeping out Ashley Cole, to enable him to cut inside two opponents and finish decisively from the edge of the area.
Chelsea ended the half on top, but Poyet is building a solid team spirit and Sunderland hit back within five minutes of the restart.
Again, they were assisted by a lack of concentration from Chelsea as they failed to deal with a miscued corner from Emanuele Giaccherini. Two Chelsea players had an opportunity to clear before the ball found its way to O’Shea, whose shot on the turn beat Cech from near the penalty spot.
Gem of a goal
They should have been level for only six minutes, but Torres shot over after Hazard’s shot was beaten out by Mannone. Torres, the last striker to score an away goal for Chelsea in the league – a year ago at Sunderland – was soon substituted, but by then they were ahead again through a gem of a goal.
Lampard and Hazard again combined superbly in the 62nd minute, with the England international’s backheel setting up the Belgian for another decisive finish.
Chelsea’s fourth goal was put into his own net by Bardsley, who made amends within two minutes when he scored at the other end to set up a tense climax, as Chelsea coped with intense pressure.