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15 Nov 2010

Premier League leaders Chelsea were convincingly beaten as they succumbed to a sparkling Sunderland display.

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic escaped a red card for fouling Danny Welbeck but Nedum Onuoha went past three defenders and shot home to put Sunderland ahead.

Asamoah Gyan expertly guided in a shot after a well-worked Black Cats move to leave the lacklustre home side rattled.

The lively Welbeck secured a memorable Sunderland win when he side-footed in from Ashley Cole's poor backpass.

The pace, movement and energy of Sunderland's strike duo of Gyan and Welbeck was the foundation of the Black Cats win but they were backed up by a steely defence and industrious midfield.

The solo effort from Onuoha was a delight, Gyan's ruthlessly taken effort was reward for a slick move and Welbeck's goal near the end was his just desserts for an impressive individual performance.

At times, champions Chelsea were overwhelmed as they suffered a first defeat of the season at Stamford Bridge and, more importantly, had their top-flight lead cut to two points following Arsenal's win at Everton earlier on Sunday.

There was plenty to admire about a vibrant Sunderland as they beat a tepid Chelsea side who gave their title rivals plenty of encouragement with a display that showed signs of susceptibility.

The Blues were found wanting from a test of their resolve, having endured the awkwardness of the departure of assistant manager Ray Wilkins on Thursday and the news that Frank Lampard's injury absence would run into December.

They suffered a further setback ahead of the game when influential captain and centre-back John Terry was ruled out with a back injury, forcing full-back Paulo Ferreira to fill in at the heart of the defence.

Lampard's continued spell on the sidelines as well as the suspension of fellow midfielder Michael Essien also put more emphasis on the contributions of Ramires and Yury Zhirkov, who both started in their side's defeat at Liverpool last Sunday.

Initially, Chelsea appeared to have reacted well to the task at hand and, after John Mikel Obi lofted a delightful ball to release Nicolas Anelka, Black Cats keeper Craig Gordon came out to bravely palm the ball away from the striker.

Zhirkov showed quick feet to work his way into a shooting position only to drag his effort wide before Sunderland took a grip of the game in emphatic style.

Welbeck sent a powerful downward header low to the corner and it took a full-stretch save from keeper Petr Cech to brilliantly palm the ball wide.

From the resultant corner, Kieran Richardson dragged a shot wide across a crowded Chelsea box and that proved to be a sign of things to come.

Welbeck, on loan from Manchester United, and Gyan began to run Chelsea's makeshift defence ragged as the Blues backline were continually turned and stretched by clever balls played over the top of them.

Gyan produced one such diagonal ball to release Welbeck, who chested the ball down before seeing his left-foot shot saved.

Welbeck appeared intent on providing his parent club with a title boost and Chelsea centre-back Ivanovic was fortunate to stay on the pitch when he pulled the Sunderland forward back and denied him a clear run at goal.

Undeterred, Welbeck found strike partner Gyan in space from another attack and Cech blocked his shot before he also saved Richardson's follow up with his leg.

Sunderland maintained the pressure on the home goal and took the lead in superb style as they ended Chelsea's hopes of achieving a club record 10th league game at home with a clean sheet.

Ivanovic's clearing header found Onuoha 40 yards out and he slalomed past three defenders before scuffing in an angled shot to put the visitors deservedly ahead.

The Black Cats onslaught continued after the break and Chelsea quickly found themselves 2-0 down courtesy of a slick move.

Welbeck found Henderson, who was called up to senior England squad for the first time on Saturday, and his first-time pass played through Gyan to clinically guide a shot past Cech.

Chelsea's attempts to find a route back into the game continually faltered as they were comfortably nullified by the work-rate of their rivals, with the midfield axis of Henderson and Lee Cattermole particularly impressive.

And, Sunderland compounded Chelsea's misery when Welbeck latched on to left-back Cole's backpass to slide in a shot and give the Black Cats their first win over Chelsea since March 2001.

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