Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2 match report: Fabio Borini makes Chelsea pay penalty for lack of fight
Sunderland give themselves chance of survival and put title further out of Mourinho’s reach
Saturday 19 April 2014
After a game full of errors, Chelsea suffer the biggest slip possible. Jose Mourinho has finally lost his 77-Premier League game unbeaten home record at Stamford Bridge, but the consequences go far deeper than that. Sunderland’s 2-1 win means Chelsea have fully lost initiative in the title race too. It is looking a long shot.
After their draw at Manchester City in midweek, meanwhile, Sunderland could also go a long way to helping Liverpool lift the title while saving themselves.
In the midst of all that, Mourinho had to save the referee Mike Dean from the ire of coach Rui Faria, physically restraining the coach from confronting the official. Dean was guilty of many errors but, beyond Chelsea’s complaints that culminated in Fabio Borini’s winning penalty, Ramires should have been sent off for a swipe. Chelsea as a whole never found the same sense of fight.
Cech may have been the player out with a virus but, even beyond his absence, these didn’t look like two teams in full health. The first half was error-strewn from the off, and finished with Dean missing Ramires’ strike on Seb Larsson.
Chelsea’s opening goal was a case in point. After a laboured opening 10 minutes, Samuel Eto’o injected life with a burst into the area. Sunderland were caught by surprise as John O’Shea completely bought the forward’s feint, before Santiago Vergini challenged for a corner.
If that was lax from Sunderland, the marking for the set-piece was ludicrously poor. Willian’s delivery was allowed simply to drop into the six-yard box, and Eto’o plundered a volley at mid-height.
It was the sort of effort that should have been easily headed away, and illustrated exactly why Sunderland are in such trouble.
Gus Poyet’s side did at least show why they retain some hope, though, by immediately mustering the spirit displayed in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw at Manchester City. They were similarly helped by some complacent play from title-challenging opposition.
Within six minutes of Eto’o’s opener, Sunderland won a corner. Somehow, Marcos Alonso was left free at the edge of the box, and he let rip with a drilled effort. It exposed Mark Schwarzer in more ways than one. The stand-in goalkeeper parried the effort right in front of him, allowing Conor Wickham to slot in the equaliser.
The Sunderland forward did look offside, however, ensuring the officials completed an error to go alongside the two teams. It was that kind of game. From there, the feeling began to grow that it would be one of those days for Chelsea.
All of a sudden, they were not quite linking up in the same way, despite the evident gaps in the Sunderland defence.
The first half was summed up on 36 minutes as Chelsea found even more space from a corner yet saw Branislavic Ivanovic head it down into the ground and keeper Vito Mannone fortunately palmed it on to the crossbar.
It was becoming that ragged. Mannone palmed away another Chelsea effort; Mike Dean waved away two claims for penalties – first after a perceived handball, second after Ramires seemed to be bundled over by Larsson just as he looked set to score.
The consolation for Chelsea was that Sunderland were being opened up, and also that they were very fortunate that Dean did not see Ramires taking retribution on Larsson.
Chelsea looked to hit Sunderland back in a different way just after half-time, but this time missed themselves. From the away side’s corner, Ivanovic released Willian, who initially surged up the pitch with intent. Just at the crucial moment, though, the attacker seemed to slow down. His pass was a little late, Eto’o’s aim was a little more obscured, and the eventual low shot was a little too far to the right of Mannone’s goal.
Chelsea’s frustration at that point was displayed by Oscar’s wild shot over the bar. Mourinho showed his dissatisfaction by hauling the Brazilian off for Demba Ba. The home side went to two up front, and their manager again played his one big wild card.
It did not initially have the same effect as against Swansea City, as Ba didn’t seem at the same level of sharpness. In one attack, the ball hit the back of his heel just when he seemed set to be released forward. In another, Ba first did well to flick the ball through for Willian, only to mess up his feet for the return.
With 25 minutes to go, there was still a lack of proper energy about Chelsea. They were too far back, not getting enough men forward, and always attacking only in spurts.
So, Mourinho went all out. Fernando Torres was introduced for Eto’o, but even more drama was injected into the game. Jozy Altidore went down in the box on 81 minutes and, although Cesar Azpilicueta didn’t appear to make contact, Dean pointed to the spot. Borini rolled it past Schwarzer and Faria roared up to the referee.
There was no grand siege however, no real late chance. The home side may have lost their chance.
Mourinho’s unbeaten home record is ended. Chelsea’s title challenge is on the brink.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Salah (Schürrle, 66), Oscar (Ba, 59), Willian; Eto’o (Torres, 74)
Sunderland (4-3-3): Mannone; Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso; Larsson (Celustka, 90), Cattermole, Colback; Johnson (Giaccherini, 66), Wickham (Altidore, 66), Borini
Referee: Mike Dean.
Match rating: 7/10
Man of the match: Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)
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