Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea: Inspired Hazard downs Black Cats

The Belgian struck twice to inspire the Blues to victory after a seven-goal thriller which also saw Jozy Altidore and Frank Lampard score and Phil Bardsley net at both ends
Eden Hazard's brilliant double helped Chelsea see off a spirited Sunderland to avoid losing ground on Premier League leaders Arsenal.

The 22-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance against the Black Cats, netting in both halves as Chelsea earned their ninth straight victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League after a seven-goal thriller.

By Harry Slavin

Gus Poyet said in his programme notes that he was expecting "a very special game" and we were certainly treated to one at the Stadium of Light as Chelsea edged a seven-goal thriller.

The real difference proved to be Eden Hazard, who constantly antagonised the Sunderland back-line form the left flank and scoring two wonderfully taken goals.

The Black Cats, though, will take the positives from a courageous display as they kept coming back when they looked down and out.

The heart is there and so are the goals, and as long as they can begin to get it right in defence, it shouldn’t be long before Poyet’s men are climbing off the bottom of the table.
Jozy Altidore had opened the scoring on his return to the Sunderland side with a fierce strike, but Frank Lampard's close-range header soon restored parity.

The superb Hazard put Chelsea ahead in the first half with an angled drive before a rare goal from John O'Shea once more levelled the scores on 54 minutes.

But Hazard restored the lead with a fine individual effort, before Phil Bardsley scored at both ends as Chelsea racked up three straight top-flight victories, while Sunderland remain rooted to the foot of the table with eight points.

Sunderland brought in Altidore and Jack Colback for Steven Fletcher and Sebastian Larsson, while Chelsea also made changes with Lampard and Willian coming in for Michael Essien and Oscar.

Chelsea fired an early warning shot when Lampard fired wide from 25 yards, but it was the home supporters who were on their feet celebrating after 14 minutes.

Andrea Dossena's free-kick rebounded into the path of Colback and his pass found Altidore, who turned John Terry in the box and fired home a left-foot effort.

Undeterred by the setback, Chelsea sought an immediate response and Jose Mourinho's side were rewarded just three minutes later.

Juan Mata burst into the box before cutting onto his right foot and lofting a pin-point cross for Lampard to apply the header from inside the six-yard box.

Buoyed by the equaliser, Chelsea continued to look threatening, but were largely frustrated by a resolute Sunderland defence until Hazard found the breakthrough on 36 minutes.

The Belgium international received the ball on the left and drove at the Sunderland defence before striking a fierce low effort into the far corner beyond Vito Mannone.

Gus Poyet would have been happy with the fight his Sunderland side showed in the first half and his charges found an equaliser against the run of play shortly after the break.

Chelsea failed to deal with Craig Gardner's corner and O'Shea swept home to level.

Mourinho was visibly frustrated on the sidelines and his mood should have been lifted when Hazard's shot was parried into the path of Fernando Torres, but the Spain international blazed over the crossbar.

But Chelsea did score a third goal for the third Premier League game running on 62 minutes as Hazard played a neat interchange with Lampard before rounding two defenders and driving past a helpless Mannone.

Demba Ba was introduced from the bench and his low cross was turned home by the unfortunate Bardsleyto open up a two-goal lead, but the former Manchester United defender turned in a corner with four minutes remaining to reduce the arrears for Sunderland.