Under strength Blues well beaten
The weight of two pending records was too much for Chelsea as goals from Nedum Onuoha and Asamoah Gyan condemned the champions to their first home league defeat since February against Sunderland.
A win would have seen the Blues set the Premier League record for most consecutive wins (12) against one team and also a club record for most consecutive clean sheets (10), but a wonder goal from Onuoha and a well-taken strike from Gyan shattered those chances.
The makeshift home side soon got into their stride, but the first half chance fell to the Black Cats with a Henderson chip into the area just evading Gyan. A better touch and the Ghanaian would have surely put Steve Bruce's men ahead.
Minutes later it was Chelsea's turn to be inches from an opening as Florent Malouda's quick turn of pace and forward pass was just out of reach of Blues captain for the day Didier Drogba.
The Black Cats had Nedum Onuoha to thanks for keeping the scores level at 12 minutes when he stopped low in his own box to head clear under pressure from Drogba after Malouda's dinked ball.
Five minutes later Mikel's long through ball was just too long for Anelka and Craig Gordon managed to get something on the ball to take it away from the Frenchman despite half hearted claims for a penalty from home fans.
The rejuvenated Yuri Zhirkov gave the game its first bit of light, cutting in from the left and jinking past four men to break into the box, but dragged his shot wide of Gordon's left hand post.
As the game reached the 22 minute mark, a vast improvement for Sunderland who were already three goals down by this time last season, the home side began to flex their muscles. Drogba was crudely scythed down by Michael Turner who was shown the game's first yellow and the big Ivorian picked himself up to smash the ball high towards goal, only a nick off the wall taking it over Gordon's bar. The Chelsea No.11 came closer six minutes later from another free-kick, which he dipped over the wall but again straight into the hands of the solid Gordon.
But a minute later the chance of the match fell to the away side as Danny Wellbeck rose highest nod Onuoha's cross toward the bottom corner but Cech got down smartly to tip round the post. From the resulting corner Richardson drilled a shot across goal but inches past the post.
And the former Manchester United man had another chance to put the Black Cats ahead when he chested down Gyan's excellent through ball but found Cech equal to his low shot. Frustration echoed around Stamford Bridge as Sunderland grew in confidence.
A minute later the pacy Wellbeck caused more problems, racing onto Zenden's pass and outstripping Ivanovic only for the Serbian to tug him back. The Sunderland players called for a red card but referee Chris Foy produced only yellow, causing incredulousness on the away bench from Bruce and co.
And as the break approached the away side took the lead from the most unlikeliest of sources as right-back Onuoha danced through three Chelsea players and slipped the ball past Cech. It was the sort of goal Lionel Messi gets lauded for scoring. It was fair to say it was deserved and the half-time shot count of 10 to five in favour of the away side would back that up, as a pocket of boos accompanied the half-time whistle a minute later.
The second half started in much the same vein with Wellbeck flashing a shot just wide with groan of frustration arising from home quarters. And it was a sign of things to come as Henderson's quick square pass played in Gyan, who beat the offside trap and finished cooly to silence home fans.
More boos rang our on 60 minutes as Malouda was replaced with Soloman Kalou, and the Ivorian's first touch was a non-existant one, letting the ball roll under his feet and out for a goal kick to frustrated groans from home fans.
Drogba then blasted his best chance of the game over from six yards out after a hint of handball, perhaps summing up the big Ivorian's, and Chelsea's, afternoon.
Gyan then flashed a shot high and wide, but was soon given the chance to get an ovation from the travelling fans, as he was taken off for Steed Malbranque. The Black Cats continued to play the ball around with the confidence of a home side while the Blues were desperate to get the ball forward quickly to the limp Drogba and Anelka.
The latter did curl an effort just over with fives minutes left but it gave Gordon no problems and sailed into the frustrated home fans.
And they were further frustrated as Ashley Cole's back-pass was intercepted by Richardson who laid a square pass on to Wellbeck who tapped home. Cue a mass exodus of home fans.
The introduction of Josh McEachran and Gael Kakuta failed to lift the lifeless home side, and Sunderland pushed on for a fourth, with Cattermole nearly working his way through only for Cech to gather.
The final-whistle was met with yet more boos from home fans while away supporters and players celebrated a quite remarkable result.
For more news on England, visit Goal.com's England section and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!