Andre Villas-Boas' team keeps in touch with those above it with a very narrow, and rather fortunate win against an immensely wasteful Black Cats side on Saturday
The home side got off to a great start with a Lampard goal after Fernando Torres hit the bar, but Sunderland struggled to convert the chances it was presented with.
The hosts were completely in control in the first half, however after the break they were sloppy and were particularly poor with their passing, but they did enough to claim the three points despite the visitors dominating the final minutes.
The visitors almost started the game perfectly as Stephane Sessegnon surged down the right before beating Ashley Cole and flashing the ball across the goal, but Jose Bosingwa was able to clear the ball before James McClean could find the net.
Chelsea had the lead with just over 10 minutes played. Mata’s right-wing cross was fantastically met with a scissor-kick at the far-post by Fernando Torres, but the Spaniard’s effort cannoned back off the bar and immediately back to Lampard, who pushed the ball past Simon Mignolet.
As the first half progressed, Sunderland managed to get into the contest a little more, but its best chance was spurned as Bendtner got on the end of Sessegnon’s clever forward pass before shooting back just past the far post, missing the target narrowly.
With six minutes to go until halftime, Torres went relatively close once again, this time from outside the area as the former Liverpool man turned Cattermole before striking low towards the left post, but it whistled past harmlessly.
With the first 45 having little in the way of drama, the match appeared to be coming to life after the break with several incidents in a matter of minutes.
First, Mignolet almost gifted Chelsea a second as the goalkeeper dropped Cole’s low cross into the path of Ramires, but the Brazilian failed to anticipate the mistake and the ball bounced off his leg and away.
Then, both sides had a penalty shout each, and both could easily have been given, as Torres went down after being caught by John O’Shea as he broke into the area, then straight down at the other end, Bendtner found himself lying on the floor after Cole barged through him from behind to meet Sessegnon’s left-wing cross.
However, the best chance of all came in the 62nd minute as Seb Larsson marched down the right-wing before sliding a ball towards the back-post for McClean, but the 22 year-old was caught by surprise at put his effort wide from five yards out.
Torres soon had another penalty claim as the striker squeezed between Larsson and Phil Bardsley before going down, but the referee, somewhat harshly, pointed for a Sunderland free-kick and booked the Spaniard for diving.
As the match went on, neither side could carve open too many clear chances, with probably the most notable event in the final 20 minutes being Michael Essien’s first match since May, while Raul Meireles attempted to chip Mignolet, but the Belgian easily tipped it over.Craig Gardner should have secured a point in the dying moments as Sessegnon found him across the goal, but the midfield put wide from close-range, then soon after Bendtner put wide when one-on-one with Cech, gifting Chelsea the win.