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Despite losing to Chelsea, Sunderland maintained their Premier League position as results broke for the Black Cats.


A spirited Sunderland performance saw them lose out in the fixture but stay up anyway, in truth the Black Cats' performance merited a place in the top flight. Nicolas Anelka grabbed the first with a fine individual goal just after half time, Sunderland equalised through Kieran Richardson before Chelsea won the game with goals from Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole. Kenwyne Jones headed home a late consolation goal.

Chelsea almost had the lead three minutes into the contest. A sloppy back header from Danny Collins saw Sunderland concede a corner, and Nicolas Anelka swung the ball into the front post area. Michael Essien flicked the ball goal wards and found the inside netting high at the near post.

Didier Drogba had an audacious effort on goal, Florent Malouda fed the ball to the Ivorian from the left flank and Drogba drove into the penalty area on the left, spotting Marton Fulop out of position Drogba tried to chip the keeper and place the ball into the far corner. Fulop was scrambling but the ball went comfortably over the bar.

Sunderland had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring, the ball was floated into the penalty area and Kenwyne Jones almost latched onto the cross in front of Petr Cech, who elected to punch, the rebound was cleared just before it came to Kieran Richardson.

The Black Cats worked a lovely move through the Chelsea defence, releasing Phil Bardsley on the right flank, Jones peeled off his man and headed towards the back post, but the ball in by Bardsley was poor and John Terry headed clear.

Malouda had a good chance just before half time, Anelka held the ball up well with his back to goal and Malouda took the ball off his foot, racing towards goal the French winger navigated two Sunderland defenders before unleashing a right-footed effort that was straight at Fulop.

The French winger was involved again at the cusp of half time, being fed into the left side of the box by a threaded John Obi Mikel pass. Malouda let the ball run across him and struck the ball first time, his curling effort rattled the cross bar dead centre. Sunderland managed to scramble the loose ball clear.

The second half started with Cech trying to show some fancy footwork, but he failed miserably, allowing Grant Leadbitter to steal and take the ball. Nothing came of the chance for the home side.

The worst piece of play of the game was followed by a magnificent individual goal by Anelka. The Frenchman picked the ball up in a central position and jinked past his marker. Advancing on the Sunderland goal the striker was invited to shoot, and Anelka accepted, smashing the ball into the top left-hand corner. 1-0 to Chelsea.

Sunderland were level within five minutes, Leadbitter did well to engineer space for a cross on the left flank, cutting back onto his right foot. The local lad sent the ball towards the back post, and Jones challenged Cech, the ball fell to Kieran Richardson who took a touch and belted the ball into the bottom corner from about five yards, 1-1.

Chelsea retook the lead in the 74th minute with a goal from substitute Salomon Kalou. Drogba crossed the ball into the box from a short corner that was cleared only as far as the edge of the box. Kalou cushioned the ball down with his right outstep, his second touch sent the ball rocketing beyond Fulop at the near post with a brilliant strike. 2-1 to Chelsea.

Bardsley had a good attempt on goal from distance, cutting in from the right and striking the ball well, but Cech was equal to the shot and saved comfortably.

The Pensioners grabbed a third in the 85th minute, confusion at the back for Sunderland allowed Malouda to spring the offside trap. Keeper Fulop came out to meet Malouda, taking the man and the ball. The loose ball fell to Ashley Cole who drilled the ball past the two men standing on the line, 3-1 to Chelsea.

Sunderland didn't give up and pulled a goal back in the 89th minute, substitute Andy Reid floated a beautiful ball into the middle from the left flank with his right foot, Jones moved quickly to meet the ball, powering his header beyond the hapless Cech.

Owen Watson, Goal.com

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