SUNDERLAND 2-3 CHELSEA
Sunderland avoided relegation despite the 3-2 defeat to us – and their manager still resigned after the final whistle. I didn’t think they played that bad to be honest but Ricky Sbragia had obviously seen enough of the Black Cats this season.
As expected, we put out a strong line-up, with only Frank Lampard and Alex rested ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final and although Sunderland certainly worked a lot harder than they seem to have done all season, our passing and movement proved to be a much bigger threat than their grafting.
Nicolas Anelka, my Man of the Match for the second week running – oh, and the man who pipped United’s Cristiano Ronaldo to this year’s Golden Boot, put us ahead on 47 minutes with a 22 yarder but Kieran Richardson equalized 5 minutes later when Cech missed a cross. Not to worry though because Salomon Kalou, who’d come on for Michael Essien, tucked away a lovely shot inside his first ten minutes on the pitch and a surprised Ashley Cole put away our third to give us enough of a cushion to take all 3 points despite Kenwyne Jones’ late goal for Sunderland.
It was one of those weird end of season games where the loudest cheer during the game came from the Sunderland supporters celebrating Villa taking the lead against Newcastle. Mind you, that was nothing compared to their celebrations when the final scores came in and confirmed Sunderland’s Premier League status for next season.
The departing Guus Hiddink, after seeing out his final Premier League game with the win he deserved, stated “We finished off with a good win and especially with a world class goal from Nicolas Anelka. My time here has been amazing. Every minute there was good work. The boys responded to what we wanted. I challenged them and they responded very well. They are big names and were very good in their attitude.”
Anyway, fair play to Sunderland, they gave us a good final game of the season and compared to Newcastle and Middlesbrough, who both took the drop, are definitely the more deserving side to retain Premier League status. And on that note, I have to say it made my day seeing Boro go down – I’ll never get tired of seeing them relegated. J
Richardson 53, Jones 90.
Anelka 47, Kalou 74, A Cole 86.
SUNDERLAND: Fulop, Bardsley, Davenport, Ferdinand, Collins, Malbranque (Healy, 78), Whitehead, Tainio (Reid, 65), Leadbitter, Richardson (Murphy, 87), Jones.
Unused Subs: Colgan, Edwards, Ciise, McShane.
CHELSEA: Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Ivanovic, A Cole, Mikel (Mancienne, 79), Belletti (Ballack, 27), Essien (Kalou, 65), Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.
Unused Subs: Hilario, Stoch, Sinclair, Di Santo.