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SUNDERLAND claimed a hard-fought victory against Chelsea thanks to a goal from England's forgotten striker Kevin Phillips in a match that ended 10-a-side.

Phillips, who was left out of both of England's recent World Cup qualifiers despite being in the squad, made no mistake from the spot after strike-partner Niall Quinn had won a penalty.

Kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes due to floodlight problems at the Stadium of Light, but once underway it was Sunderland that looked most likely to score.

Peter Reid's side thought they had taken the lead after only six minutes when Quinn and Phillips combined to put Julio Arca into space on the left.

The midfielder cut inside Chelsea's Albert Ferrer to fire in a shot which, just like Ray Parlour's effort for England against Finland, hit the bar and bounced down on the line.

Arca insisted the ball had gone in, and later replays showed it was a goal, but play was waved on as Frank Leboeuf hacked the ball clear.

Chelsea hardly troubled Sunderland goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen in the first 45 minutes though Gianfranco Zola wasted a good opportunity by shooting harmlessly over from 20 yards.

At the other end Chelsea keeper Ed de Goey saved his side twice within seconds when he first cut out Kevin Kilbane's cross as Quinn raced in at the far post and then produced a superb reaction save to keep out the Irishman's point-blank header.

Frank Leboeuf was stretchered off on 30 minutes after landing awkwardly on his left arm after challenging Quinn for a high ball. The French international was replaced by former Barcelona defender Winston Bogarde whose presence seemed to sure up Chelsea's defence.

But on 64 minutes it was Sunderland who took the lead after they were awarded a controversial penalty. Mario Melchiot was adjudged to have fouled Quinn in the six-yard box and Phillips stepped up to score his sixth goal of the season.

There was more controversy four minutes later when Sunderland's Kilbane and Chelsea's Graeme Le Saux were sent-off for a scuffle after Kilbane retaliated to Le Saux's attempted use of the elbow.

With time running out Chelsea pushed forward and came close to equalising on several occasions when Tore Andre Flo came close to connecting with Zola's cross from the right on 72 minutes, and then Ferrer's goalbound volley was blocked on the line, but Sunderland's defence stood firm until the final whistle.