The victory moves us to within one point of Manchester City in third place after our double capture of Fernando Torres and David Luiz on transfer deadline day.
Sunderland took the lead with their first attempt on goal in the match when Phil Bardsley drove forward from left-back, cutting inside on the edge of the box before taking a pop at goal. His impressive effort swerved toward the bottom right-hand corner and past Petr Cech to give Sunderland a third minute lead.
We looked shell-shocked as Sunderland’s midfield began to establish themselves on the game. The mobility of our front three looked as if it could cause problems though, when Salomon Kalou cut infield from the right and Frank Lampard wandered into the vacated space.
A deflected pass found its way to Lampard, who didn’t hesitate as he went for goal, but although his shot was firm, it ended up on the wrong side of Craig Gordon’s right-hand post.
It wasn’t long before we were back in the game, however, with Ashley Cole winning a penalty from referee Mark Halsey. The ball was lobbed forward into the box and Cole took a fall under contact from Ahmed Elmohamady. Lampard stepped up for Chelsea and coolly dispatched it to level the score.
We then took the lead with 22 minutes played after two defensive mistakes by Sunderland. Anelka threaded the ball through to Kalou, who was played onside by Anton Ferdinand – standing two yards behind the defensive lead. Kalou raced through on goal as Gordon charged off his line prematurely. Kalou was smart to this and took his shot early, sending it past the stranded keeper and trickling over the line.
Sunderland were back on level pegging three minutes later as Elmohamady jinked through the Chelsea defence and was brought down on the right-hand edge of the Chelsea penalty area. Richardson hit the free-kick low and hard as it zipped under the Chelsea wall and into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal. Petr Cech didn’t even move and, incredibly, four goals had been scored within half an hour.
The second half started with a barrage of attacks from us as we looked to finally establish firm control of the match.
Kalou crossed from the right flank in the opening minutes and only a last ditch block from Nedum Onuoha denied him. We nearly bundled the ball home from the resultant corner, with Kalou throwing a boot into the mix at the back post. Steed Malbranque was on hand to block on the post with Jordan Henderson there to mop up and clear.
It look inevitable that we would convert this pressure into a third goal but it infuriated the Sunderland fans as it came from a corner they were adamant shouldn’t have been given.
The initial cross was cleared only as far as Lampard, who fired goal wards. Gordon did well to save, but the rebound fell to John Terry who hit his shot into the ground and it bounced up over Gordon to give us a 3-2 lead.
Once ahead for a second time, we never looked like we would relinquish the lead again
Restricting Sunderland to very few opportunities Anelka added a fourth in injury time with a tidy finish after a smart pass from substitute Florent Malouda.
Gill Reeves CSG disabled rep.
Sunderland 2-4 Chelsea
Lampard (pen) 15
03 Richardson – yellow card
15 Onuoha (Cook 87)
08 Malbranque (Colback 81)
22 Mignolet, 05 Mensah, 12 Angeleri, 16 Riveros, 25 Colback, 26 Cook, 37 Adam Reed
02 Ivanovic – yellow card
03 A Cole
17 Bosingwa (Ferreira 90)
12 Mikel (Ramires 77)
11 Drogba – yellow card
21 Kalou (Malouda 81)
22 Turnbull, 19 Ferreira, 43 Bruma, 07 Ramires, 15 Malouda, 46 McEachran, 55 Sala