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Barclays Premier League

Stamford Bridge (ATT 41,500) 7th April 2013 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: N Swarbrick

Chelsea Chelsea vs Sunderland S'land

Chelsea 2

M Kilgallon (og 47)
B Ivanovic (55)

ft

S'land 1

C Azpilicueta (og 45)

Premier League: Chelsea back into top three with victory over Di Canio's Sunderland

By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp.   Last Updated: 07/04/13 6:47pm

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Chelsea climbed back into the top three of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Sunderland as Paolo Di Canio's first game in charge ended in a narrow and unfortunate defeat.

The relegation-threatened Black Cats, who have now taken just three points from their last nine games, took the lead just before the interval through Cesar Azpilicueta's own goal.

But their hopes of a Stamford Bridge shock evaporated early in the second half as Matt Kilgallon put through his own net before Branislav Ivanovic deflected home David Luiz's driven shot in the 55th minute.

Best of the match

  • Man of the match: David Luiz gets the award after a typically busy defensive display which featured plenty of attacking intent, including the shot which led to Branislav Ivanovic's winning goal.
  • Moment of the match: Sunderland dared to dream for a moment after taking the lead just before half-time, but their hopes were dashed immediately after the interval.
  • Pass of the match: Luiz fired a 50-yard cross-field pass right into the run of Juan Mata but the Spaniard was unable to create any danger with his eventual cross.
  • Controversy of the match: Craig Gardner was lucky to stay on after lunging in on Demba Ba in the first half and Luiz in the second, while the Chelsea defender later caught Connor Wickham in the face with his elbow.
  • Talking points: Can Paolo Di Canio turn around Sunderland's season and help them beat the drop? Will Chelsea's punishing fixture schedule catch up with them in the coming weeks?

Sunderland had the first chance with only three minutes on the clock as Stephane Sessegnon burst into the area but blasted into Petr Cech's side-netting when he could have elected to pull the ball back to Connor Wickham, who started in place of Danny Graham.

Kilgallon survived a couple of speculative home appeals for handball after two challenges with Demba Ba, the second of which coming as he slid in superbly to deny the Blues forward following a deflected Luiz free-kick.

The Black Cats then immediately launched a counter-attack, with Sessegnon finding Adam Johnson in acres of space on the right of the box. He cut back and curled a shot towards the top corner with his left foot, but only struck the face of the back-tracking Luiz.

Craig Gardner was perhaps fortunate only to be booked following a lunging challenge on Ba in the 25th minute which left Benitez shaking his head, but the Sunderland midfielder will now miss the next two games through suspension.

Stamford Bridge was silenced moments before the interval when Johnson's well delivered corner, awarded after Luiz blocked a Wickham shot, was flicked on by John O'Shea and Azpilicueta could only slice the ball into his own net underneath the crossbar.

But the match was turned on its head at the very start of the second half as Fernando Torres, on for the injured Ba, drove at the Sunderland defence and slipped a pass to Oscar, whose poor first touch allowed Simon Mignolet to save only for the ball to strike the unfortunate Kilgallon and roll agonisingly home.

And it was 2-1 in the 55th minute as Wickham's headed clearance from a corner was drilled back in by Luiz from the edge of the box with Ivanovic deflecting the ball home as it flew into the area.

Torres headed over when he could have done better after being teed up by Oscar following an excellent combination with Juan Mata, while Johnson curled a shot narrowly wide of Cech's goal after being presented with possession by Luiz, who was limping after another Gardner challenge.

The Chelsea centre-back then left Wickham in a heap by the corner flag as he caught the Sunderland striker with his elbow, with the Black Cats unable to find a way back into the game and they remain deep in the mire ahead of next weekend's derby date with Newcastle.

Rafael Benitez used his post-match interview to hit out at the pundits and reporters who he feels have been too quick to rush to judgement over the weekend.

He told Sky Sports: "Two or three days before it was a crisis, two hours before the game it was the end of the world. Now we are in the top three again."

Di Canio was also left frustrated by negativity surrounding his team but insists he remains confident of survival after his first game in charge.

He told Sky Sports: "At the moment everything is negative, but we are not worried because we are going to do the right job to stay in the league. I believe in the quality of my players."

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 1 3
2 Manchester City 1 3
3 Arsenal 1 3
4 Liverpool 1 3
5 Swansea City 1 3
6 Aston Villa 1 3
7 Hull City 1 3
8 Tottenham Hotspur 1 3
9 Everton 1 1
10 Leicester City 1 1
11 Sunderland 1 1
12 West Bromwich Albion 1 1
13 Crystal Palace 1 0
14 Manchester United 1 0
15 Southampton 1 0
16 Queens Park Rangers 1 0
17 Stoke City 1 0
18 West Ham United 1 0
19 Burnley 1 0
20 Newcastle United 1 0

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