The game twisted and turned and Sunderland will feel deflated after fighting so valiantly. They might have got something from this game were it not for Eden Hazard, who produced one of his finest displays to date in a Chelsea shirt.
It was the hosts who drew first blood on 14 minutes through Jozy Altidore, who swivelled and rifled past Cech when the ball fell to him in the box.
Sunderland’s lead didn’t last long though, as Frank Lampard levelled just three minutes later. Hazard hit the byline before standing up an exquisite cross which Lampard was allowed to nod home from close range. The Belgian put Chelsea ahead on 37 minutes, when he cut inside onto his right foot on the edge of the box and fired low into the corner to Mannone’s left.
Sunderland came out fighting after the break and got themselves back in the game through their captain John O’Shea, who poked home after Chelsea failed to clear their lines from a corner. But Chelsea got another through Hazard who burst into the box and finished powerfully.
The visitors looked to have killed the game off in the 84th minute when Phil Bardsley turned the ball into his own net. But Bardsley went straight down the other end to redeem himself, firing home as another corner went uncleared.
At 4-3, with 6 minutes added time, it was a dramatic end to the game as Sunderland pressed for an equaliser. Ultimately, it wasn't to be for Sunderland who should take heart from their display: they matched Mourinho's men, but one man - Eden Hazard - proved the difference.
14’ – GOAL for Sunderland: Jozy Altidore fires Sunderland into the lead! It's a poor free kick from Dossena, but it falls to the American in the box, who swivels and fires a left-foot shot past Petr Cech.
17’ - GOAL for Chelsea: Frank Lampard gets Chelsea quickly back on terms with a header. Eden Hazard gets to the by-line and stands the ball up and Lampard is allowed to nod home.
36’ - GOAL for Chelsea: Eden Hazard puts Chelsea ahead! He picks up the ball on the left, makes his way to the corner of the box, steps inside onto his right foot and fires low into the bottom right hand corner. Fantastic goal.
50’ – GOAL for Sunderland: The hosts are level! And it's John O'shea of all people! As the ball bobbles around in the box with Chelsea failing to clear the corner, the ball falls to O'Shea who pokes it home.
62’ – GOAL for Chelsea: Chelsea are back in front and it's that man Hazard again! A little give and go with Lampard on the left hand side of the box and he engineers some space before lashing past Mannone from near the penalty spot.
84’ GOAL for Chelsea! The visitors look to have wrapped it up courtesy of a Phil Bardsley own goal. Bardsley doesn't need to connect with the low cross but inexplicably does and the ball rolls past the despairing Mannone.
86’ – GOAL for Sunderland: Sunderland have a lifeline and it's redemption for Bardsley! He lashes home in similar fashion to John O'Shea as Chelsea fail to clear another corner.
Sunderland have conceded four own goals this season, twice as many as any other Premier League side.
Chelsea have now won 17 of their previous 18 encounter with Sunderland.
Jozy Altidore has ended a run of 1,205 minutes without a Premier League goal.
Chelsea were brilliant going forward and took the three points, but Sunderland should take heart from this game, too. This was not the display of a team who are doomed relegation. After they welcome Spurs on Sunday, 8 of their remaining 10 home games are against sides currently below the top 9. If they can muster performances like tonight, the Stadium of Light will be the key to their survival.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Eden Hazard (Chelsea): The Belgian was simply sublime today, and looked a potent threat everytime he picked up the ball. With one beautiful assist and two beautiful goals – he was the difference in this close-fought thriller.
Sunderland: Mannone 6, Bardsley 6, Dossena 6, O'Shea 6, Brown 7, Ki 6, Colback 5, Gardner 6, Borini 6, Giaccherini 7, Altidore 8. Subs: Larsson 6, Fletcher 6, Johnson 5
Chelsea: Cech 6, Ivanovic 6, Cahill 6, Terry 6, Azpilicueta 6; Ramires 8, Lampard 7 ; Willian 7, Mata 8, Hazard 9; Torres 5. Subs: Mikel 6, Schurrle 6, Ba 6
THE MATCH IN A TWEET