Jozy Altidore scored. Phil Bardsley scored minutes after an own goal. We scored from three set pieces. John O’Shea scored. We scored three goals. We witnessed one of best performances from an opposition player at the Stadium of Light. Erm, what's ganin on?!
The seven goal thriller - yes SEVEN - has to go down as one of the most remarkable matches we've ever gone on to lose at the SoL. Despite conceding a mammoth four goals whilst littering our play with mistakes, I am doused in an enormous amount of pride. Seldom do you see a Sunderland side with quite as much grit and resilience as that, it's enough to make you genuinely believe we can stay up. I am meant to analyse this game in some vague way but that is proving pretty difficult.
From kick off we imposed ourselves onto the title chasers and Gus Poyet's decision to drop Steven Fletcher for Altidore found its justification after quarter of an hour. It was the result of Andrea Dossena's free kick, one of the worst free kick's I've ever seen ending up as a goal, but it was quality after the initial kick. Jack Colback reacted like lightening to poke the ball into Altidore's feet; the American shifted onto his left just as quickly and smashed home the opening goal. Quite rightly he went a bit mental, so did our defence shortly afterwards.
A minute later, we fluffed the opportunity to clear Juan Mata’s before Eden Hazard breezed to the byline and floated in a teasing cross. All of our defence were caught ball watching as Frank Lampard nodded home unchallenged from six yards. Dossena was closest. That was just a glimpse of what was to come from Hazard.
Something which was became quite regular throughout the game led to Hazard’s first and Chelsea turning the game on its head. Phil Bardsley will be having nightmares about the Belgian as he cut inside with ease and sublimely finished into the bottom corner.
The Blues asserted some dominance prior to half time and in the end probably deserved to lead because of their very evident quality. That was not to keep us down too long and captain John O’Shea dragged the scores level after another set piece. It was probably the worst corner ever to have led to the goal, like Dossena’s free kick was the worst to have led to a goal.
Hazard yet again put Chelsea back in front with some sublime play between him and Lampard before Bardsley seemingly put the game to bed with an astonishing own goal. Under no pressure, he just poked Demba Ba’s cross into his own net. Yet minutes later – he scores! I’d be pretty confident in suggesting that’s the quickest ever own goal to goal scored in the Premier League. We battered Chelsea towards the end, but Adam Johnson’s reluctance to shoot and Ki Sung-Yeung losing his footing saw any hopes of a dramatic equaliser dashed.
So where did it all go wrong? Well, two things really. Firstly and probably most definitively, Hazard was simply unplayable. At times we had three or even four players trying to prise the ball away from him yet his strength, balance and skill were worthy of gracing any stage. It’s easy to lambast defenders but at times you really do have to hold your hands up, I felt a bit sorry for Bardsley in the end especially considering he received little if any help in dealing with the Belgian.
Secondly, we lost this game in midfield. Lampard and Ramires were brilliant; Colback and Craig Gardner were poor. Lampard obviously got his goal and an assist, whilst Ramires was instrumental in breaking up our play with tackles, clearances, interceptions and often left our midfield for dead with some penetrating runs. We don’t have any midfielders with anywhere near that kind of influence, that mixed with an incredible individual display is why we conceded four goals. Still not sure how we scored three ourselves mind!
Bring on Spurs I say.
What They Said
"Eden Hazard was unplayable, I don't remember a player performing at this level against me, we tried everything, two men and double up, three on him and then tried another full-back."
"If we can play like we did today, and fight like today, we will still be in the Premier League for sure,"
"Today was an exceptional game of football."
"We played a phenomenal game, our best game away from home. There was top quality, great creativity in the three attacking players behind Fernando and beautiful goals. Even the fourth goal was a great counter-attack."
"Sunderland are a good team - good football, good spirit, amazing crowd. They are fast with the wingers coming inside. I knew that it was going to be difficult. But when you play so well you have to win comfortably and not give a headache to the manager."
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