Sunderland Survive But Chelsea Retain The UWCC Title
Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) saw another defence today as champions Chelsea took on relegation-threatened Sunderland in the last game of the league season.
With things tied up at the top already, all eyes were on the battle for safety at the bottom of the table which involved Sunderland, Hull, Newcastle, and Middlesbrough.
Of the four, Sunderland were the most likely to stay up, but a win for Newcastle and Hull, coupled with a defeat to Chelsea, would see them playing Championship football again next season.
Chelsea were expected to name a weakened side ahead of their FA Cup final match on Saturday, but Guus Hiddink surprised many by naming the likes of John Terry, Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, and Nicolas Anelka in the starting line-up.
His decision paid off as Chelsea ran out 3-2 winners. Despite the loss, Sunderland will be playing in the Premier League next season after Newcastle, Middlesbrough, and Hull also lost.
Sunderland looked like a team fighting for survival early on, with the work rate from almost every player being more than Ricky Sbragia could have asked for.
However, Chelsea's superior quality was evident as they looked the more comfortable.
Essien came close with a header and Chelsea's all-round play suggested their minds weren't wandering to the FA Cup final just yet.
Sunderland started having some chances of their own soon after, however, with Grant Leadbitter's effort whistling just wide while Kenwyne Jones came agonisingly close to connecting with a cross and diverting the ball in.
While Chelsea may not have had their minds on another game, the Sunderland fans did, and an almighty cheer went up when Damien Duff's own goal put Aston Villa 1-0 up against Newcastle.
Suddenly, the result at the Stadium of Light wasn't as important as it might have been. Fortunately for Sunderland fans, this revelation came not long before they went behind to a lovely Nicolas Anelka goal.
Anelka's goal came at the start of the second half, and just after Florent Malouda had come within inches of adding to his goal tally for the season when he struck the crossbar.
Shortly after Anelka's opener, however, Petr Cech's error gave Kieran Richardson a golden opportunity to equalise, something he gleefully accepted.
Chelsea soon regained control, and it wasn't long before they went back ahead, this time Salomon Kalou driving the ball in from the edge of the area.
As the match entered its final stages, Sunderland had a strong penalty claim turned down when they thought the ball struck the arm of Michael Mancienne.
Referee Mark Halsey waved the claims away before a quick counter attack caught Sunderland by surprise and allowed Ashley Cole to get his first goal of the season.
With Newcastle looking set to lose against Aston Villa, it seemed even a 3-1 loss would keep Sunderland in the division.
They would get a late consolation goal through Kenwyne Jones, but it wouldn't change the the outcome of the match, nor the implications of the final day results.
The result means that Sunderland survived with just 36 points, but even retaining Sunderland's Premier League status wasn't enough for Ricky Sbragia who resigned immediately after the match.
Anelka's goal was his 19th of the season, a tally which wins him the Premiership Top Scorer award.
Salomon Kalou's goal was his fifth in UWCC history, becoming the seventh person to hit that landmark, and the fifth from Chelsea.
93.5 percent of voters in the poll correctly predicted that Sunderland wouldn't be able to beat Chelsea so well done to the vast majority!
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea (Chelsea become new champions)
Sunderland 2-3 Chelsea
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Chelsea's next title defence comes next Saturday as they face Everton in the FA Cup final. It will be the second time the UWCC has been defended in a final, the last defence of the season and the 50th defence of all time! Can Everton become the best side in the world?!
Quiz Question No. 3 Answer:
Quote No. 3:
"It was an inch-perfect pass to no-one." - Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins
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