Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea: Fernando Torres Inspires Benitez, Blues to Victory
Barclays Premier League—Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England at 10:00 a.m. ET
Scorers: Torres (11', 45+2'), Mata (47'), Johnson (65')
Simon Mignolet, Phil Bardsley (Jack Colback. 67'), Danny Rose, John O'Shea, Carlos Cuellar, Sebastian Larsson (Louis Saha, 81'), Craig Gardner, Adam Johnson, James McClean, Stephan Sessegnon, Conor Wickham
Keiron Westwood, Fraizer Campbell, Matt Kilgallon, David Vaughan, Titus Bramble.
Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Oriol Romeu (Oscar, 20'), Ramires, Victor Moses (Ryan Bertrand, 60'), Juan Mata, Eden Hazard (Frank Lampard, 78'), Fernando Torres
Ross Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira, Marko Marin, Cesar Azpilicueta.
Full-time: Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea
Torres inspires the Blues to their first victory under Rafa Benitez. It was harder than the score suggests, with Sunderland causing some problems towards the end, but this time Chelsea hung onto a lead, for once.
Chelsea not at their scintillating best throughout, but there were glimpses that they are returning to that. If Torres can become more confident in front of goal, the Blues will have a chance of catching the two Manchester clubs.
What were your thoughts on the game today? Who was your man of the match? Did Rafa get his selection and tactics correct? Let me know in the comments section below.
Thanks for joining me.
90+2'- Gardner drives forward and is fouled by Cole. He wrestles the ball from Johnson to take responsibility himself, fizzing a beautiful strike onto the cross bar and falling to safety for Chelsea. Unlucky from Gardner.
90+1'- Wickham fires in a fierce drive on goal, but Cech tips it around the post. At least the kid is still trying, unlike many of his team mates.
88'-The game is all but over and thousands of Sunderland fans left a little while ago, Chelsea going through the motions and the Black cats just letting them do so.
85'- Slight hold up here as Mark Halsey gets him "moment." The referee spends an age talking to the players for no apparent reason.
83'- Lampard unleashes a venomous shot from range and it dips just in front of Mignolet, with Torres looking to pick up the pieces. The England international looks delighted to be back on the pitch after such a long spell out.
81'- Sunderland send on Chelsea's nemesis of recent seasons, Louis Saha, replacing Larsson.
78'- Chelsea substitution: Here he is, Frank Lampard returns for the Blues, replacing Eden Hazard as Benitez attempts to close this game out.
77'- Torres is onside, but the ball is too wide for him to try and grab his hat trick, instead the Spaniard drives the ball across the six yard box, looking for the onrushing Ramires, but Colback clears the danger.
75'- Johnson curls a brilliant free kick from the right side of the penalty area towards the top right corner of the goal. Cech flings himself at the ball and turns it around the post. Great effort from Sunderland's best player today.
72'- Hazard is brimming with confidence and bringing out the flicks and tricks. The Belgian dances past Bardsley and digs out a cross that finds Mata unmarked in the middle of the area. The Spaniard has barely any room to manufacture some space to shoot though and the move fizzles out.
69'- Sunderland growing in confidence a bit here and Chelsea look to be on the ropes. Hazard always willing to scamper clear on the counter though. There's another goal in this I think.
65'- Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea
Johnson unleashes a ripper from the left side of the area, curving back towards goal with some curl from the outside of his left boot. Cech might feel he could do better, especially from the tight angle and lack of a dive, but that's a fine effort from Johnson.
63'- Chelsea going through the motions a bit here, less fluid and expansive as before. Sunderland looking to just settle down now and keep this respectable. A slight lull in this match now.
60'- Chelsea substitution: Ryan Bertrand replaces a tired Victor Moses, with Hazard switching to he right.
56'- It's just gorgeous from Oscar, who is dazzling the Black Cats with his flair and skill. The Brazilian drags the ball back and then teases the Sunderland back line by shifting the ball with the inside and outside of his right boot, before an audacious scooped pass over the top of the defence. Chelsea playing with a swagger now, that's for sure.
Chelsea fans rejoice, loudly:
We don't care about rafa he don't care about us all we care about is chelsea fc Chelsea fc— Ben Rebuck #RafaOut (@benrebuck) December 8, 2012
52'- Chelsea bursting forward now, looking to feast upon a wounded animal that is Sunderland's back four. Mata slides in Moses, but the Nigerian's shot is poor, dragged narrowly wide.
50'- Martin O'Neill looks like a man who knows the sack is around the corner. The Sunderland manager must surely just prevent this from getting out of hand, it could become embarrassing if Chelsea really want to cash in.
47'- Sunderland 0-3 Chelsea
Torres capitalises on a horrid error by Bardsley, who has been, quite frankly, pathetic today. The Spaniard drives a half-volley onto the bar, Mignolet helpless. Mata is quickest to react and directs a volley past the keeper. Game over.
That was the first penalty Fernando Torres has taken with an English club.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) December 8, 2012
45+2'- Larsson lunged in on Ramires for the penalty, with the Brazilian going nowhere. Dreadful tackle from the Swede, absolutely no need for it, especially on the stroke of half-time. Torres' second basically kills the game for the Blues.
45+2'- Sunderland 0-2 Chelsea
Torres steps up this time, after the drama midweek, burying the penalty to Mignolet's left, with the keeper diving the wrong way. That's four goals in two matches for Torres. Unbelievable.
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