Sbragia quits as Sunderland revel in rivals' demise

Sunderland 2 Chelsea 3

They lost the game and they lost their manager Ricky Sbragia, and yet they celebrated. They celebrated as if they had won the World Cup, the Grand National and the Olympic 1500 metres all on the same day. Sunderland have survived in the Premier League and despite suffering an eighth defeat in their last 10 matches, the news from Villa Park that arch-rivals Newcastle were losing and were relegated was enough to send Wearside into delirium.

Sbragia stepping back into the coaching set-up from which he emerged reluctantly in December following Roy Keane's walk-out was a surprise to no one. Despite an initial uplift in results – two four-goal victories over West Brom and Hull – Sbragia looked less comfortable the day his tenure was made permanent.

That has been reflected in three wins in the 19 league games since. Sunderland stayed up due to the deficiencies of others. "I'm delighted, not sad," Sbragia said. "I could've been selfish and kept it but I was thinking about Sunderland.

"For them to take the step to the next level they need a bigger name. I felt it was time to go, it was me who suggested it. My brief was to keep Sunderland in the Premier League."

Sbragia did that, and he is a good man. But Sunderland need a makeover. Superficially, losing 3-2 to a side of Chelsea's strength sounds laudable, but Chelsea, were conserving themselves for Saturday's FA Cup final. Frank Lampard was left in London. He will be fit for Everton.

Alan Shearer taking Newcastle down on the day that Sunderland stay up is the stuff of prayers round here. It is only three years since Shearer played his last ever game, on this ground, a 4-1 Newcastle victory that capped Sunderland's 15-point season. That will never be forgotten.

A third relegation in five seasons was a possibility but the club has survived the buckling effect of Keane's exit and the man whom Keane blamed that on, Ellis Short, was here yesterday to witness the club he is about to seize full control of.

Chelsea forced three corners in the first eight minutes, Michael Essien hit the side-netting and Didier Drogba provoked the first of three decent first-half saves from Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop.

In first-half injury-time Florent Malouda struck the crossbar, so though there was tribal glee at news from Villa, Sunderland were not there yet. Two minutes after the interval, reality bit anew. Nicolas Anelka buried a sweet shot from 20 yards. It was Anelka's 19th of the season, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo, and Anelka finishes as the division's top scorer.

Kieran Richardson equalised six minutes later but Salomon Kalou made it 2-1 on 74 minutes and after more weak home defending, Ashley Cole made it three. In the 90th minute Kenwyne Jones headed in a brilliant Andy Reid cross and there was then a wait for confirmation of survival. When it came Wearside erupted.

Sunderland (4-4-1-1) Fulop; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Davenport, Collins; Malbranque (Healy, 79), Tainio (Reid, 65), Whitehead, Leadbitter; Richardson (Murphy 87); Jones. Substitutes not used: Colgan, McShane, Edwards, Cisse

Chelsea (4-3-3) Cech; Boswinga, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Essien (Kalou, 65) Mikel (Mancienne, 79) Belletti (Ballack, 27); Anelka, Drogba, Malouda. Substitutes not used: Hilario, Stoch, Sinclair, Di Santo

Referee: M Halsey (Hertfordshire)

Booked: Sunderland Bardsley; Chelsea Cole

Man of the match: Mikel

Attendance: 42,468

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week