Phillips lights up Stadium of Night

The England candidates: Reid's motivational powers inspire home-made victory
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The Independent Football

In a riotously rousing game Peter Reid's superbly organised street-fighters overwhelmed Claudio Ranieri's urbane city types, who were more pushed back by Sunderland's aggression than laid-back like their manager. It is no exaggeration to say Sunderland should have won by more - in a repeat of Finland, replays showed Julio Arca's seventh-minute shot had crossed the line after it bounced down off the underside of the bar.

In a riotously rousing game Peter Reid's superbly organised street-fighters overwhelmed Claudio Ranieri's urbane city types, who were more pushed back by Sunderland's aggression than laid-back like their manager. It is no exaggeration to say Sunderland should have won by more - in a repeat of Finland, replays showed Julio Arca's seventh-minute shot had crossed the line after it bounced down off the underside of the bar.

Reid thinks the England manager should be English - but does not want the job himself because the media attention might curtail his off-field social activities - and this performance showed his motivational qualities to the full.

Ranieri, who might not speak English but has mastered the art of dodging questions in any language, concentrated on the issue in hand: "I was pleased with our spirit but Sunderland were more aggressive."

The early controversy involving Arca's "goal" clearly helped Reid's men because, before it, Sunderland had been manfully closing down their opponents as they arrogantly stroked the ball about. Then Kevin Phillips was clearly felled by Frank Leboeuf but the referee, Jeff Winter, played the advantage well as Niall Quinn picked up the loose ball and lofted a delightful pass over the Chelsea area. Arca skilfully brought it down and defeated Albert Ferrer in one movement and, as Ed de Goey advanced, he lifted the ball over the goalkeeper only to strike the bar and, at the same time, spark the home side into life.

Enraged, suddenly Sunderland were full of scything tackles and incisive moves, with Kevin Kilbane tearing in from every angle. Alex Rae, in for Don Hutchison who was once again suspended, was spraying balls imperiously around the pitch for Quinn to jump for and Phillips to run on to. Sunderland were transformed into the side who had scored four in the first half of this fixture last season.

"I am really pleased and proud of all my players," said an ebullient Reid afterwards. "They competed well and played some lovely stuff. Altogether no problems. It's a happy dressing room."

With the Stadium of Light in the dark because of a powercut an hour before the scheduled start of the match, kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes. "By the time we'd finished I thought England must have appointed a new manager," joked Reid, who singled out Quinn for special praise. "He played really, really well, considering he's been away oninternational duty."

Immediately after the Arca incident, De Goey had to cut out Kilbane's cross before the ball could reach Quinn and, a minute later, he produced an extraordinary reflex save to keep out Quinn's point-blank header.

In fact, the giant Irishman was omnipresent on the ground. He pole-axed Marcel Desailly with a vicious shot to the kidneys, and, in the air, he was unbeatable - in the 29th minute Leboeuf was stretchered off, never to return, after daring to challenge his supremacy.

Winston Bogarde came on to plug up the defence, and so worried was Ranieri, a previously inscrutable sentry beside the dugout, he unclasped his hands from behind his back to urge his team to keep their heads.

At half-time he replaced the visibly frustrated Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with Tore Andre Flo. The interval dampened Sunderland's fire and, through Dennis Wise and Ferrer, Chelsea half-heartedly turned in their first shots of the afternoon.

Reid now appeared pitch-side, chewing frantically, spitting fury. Sunderland were alight again. Graeme Le Saux was booked for repeat offending against Kilbane and then, in the 62nd minute, the Dutchman Mario Melchiot foolishly grabbed Quinn's shirt a yard from goal. Although Quinn got his header in, a penalty was awarded which Phillips calmly converted.

It was a time for cool heads but, five minutes later, Le Saux fouled Kilbane once more and the Irish international retaliated. Both were dismissed quite rightly by the referee.

Although Ranieri reshuffled his pack in the dying minutes while Reid bellowed at his, Chelsea had neither the power nor the strength of character to overcome this tough Sunderland side.

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