Rock Bottom Sunderland surprise Chelsea
Written By: Robert Halter
After Petr Cech was ruled out, Chelsea reserve goalkeeper, Mark Schwarzer was drafted in ahead of the mid April fixture with relegation threatened Sunderland. A snap shot by Willian on ten minutes was comfortably collected by Vito Mannone from the foot of his right post. But two minutes later, the Blues got the breakthrough when from Willian’s corner, a well connected right footed volley by Samuel Eto’o crashed into the heart of the goal as Eto’o then charged towards the Chelsea bench with an exuberant celebration. But the Black Cats found a way back into the game on eighteen minutes, when from Seb Larsson’s short corner the ball was played out to Marcos Alonso whose low long range drive was spilled by Schwarzer and poaching in the box was Conor Wickham to tuck the ball home from close range. On twenty six minutes, a well placed pass by Branislav Ivanovic was caught on the rise by Oscar before the ball was plucked out the air by Mannone. On just under the half hour mark, a foul by Lee Cattermole on Oscar gave the Blues number eleven the chance to exact revenge but Oscar’s bending free kick was clawed away by Mannone from the right corner of the net. On thirty two minutes, after Jack Colback was pushed to the floor by Nemanja Matic, the Blues had John Terry’s goal ruled out due to the infringement. Another Willian corner on thirty six minutes, nearly produced dividends again but Ivanovic’s downward header was frantically kept out by Mannone as he pushed the ball against the bar from under the goal line. More heroics by Mannone kept the Black Cats on level terms on forty one minutes when at full stretch, Mannone kept out Matic’s low drive and then dived the opposite direction to stop Mohamed Salah’s follow up shot. The Blues then had a penalty appeal turned away as Fabio Borini’s header struck the hand of his own Sunderland player, Alonso. Another piece of goalkeeping by Mannone then thwarted Chelsea near to the break as from Salah’s cross, Mannone pushed away Willian’s strike before Ramires headed the ball wide. The Blues were quickest out of the traps for the second half and two minutes into the re-start, Ivanovic played through Willian who supplied Eto’o, who struck a low drive that went inches past the right post. The Blues then later changed Oscar for Demba Ba and on sixty four minutes, Ba miscued in front of the target, after inter play with Willian. Further subs were made as Sunderland replaced Adam Johnson for Emanuele Giaccherini and took off Wickham for Altidore while the Blues brought on Andre Schurrle for Salah. After a long goal kick by Schwarzer on sixty eight minutes, Mannone was worse for wear after taking a tumble while trying to make a clearance but after a short treatment was back on his feet. In the final throw of the dice, Fernando Torres took over from Eto’o and a theatrical scissors kick by Torres sailed over on seventy six minutes, after a half headed clearance by John O’ Shea, following a cross by Willian. It was game up for Chelsea on eighty two minutes, as a slip by Cesar Azpilicueta let in Altidore and as he tried to recover the danger, Azpilicueta was adjudged by referee Mike Dean to have pulled down Altidore and in helping to seal the title for Liverpool and preserve the Black Cats safety, the Reds loaned striker, Borini despatched the spot kick past Schwarzer. In all the furore, Jose Mourinho’s assistant Rui Faria was sent away from the dugout after protesting. The Blues tried to find a way back but Schurrle’s dipping long range effort was acrobatically tipped over by Mannone. Another penalty appeal was turned away for the Blues after Torres’s strike hit the hand of Cattermole in the area. In stoppage time, it was agony for the Blues as Terry’s header was caught by Mannone, after Matic linked up with Ivanovic. At the end, the Black Cats took off Larsson for Ondrej Celustka following a knock to Larsson from a Terry challenge. A speculative long range blast by Giaccherini at the end went narrowly over as Sunderland won 2-1.