FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: PHENOMENAL GAME
Tonight's 4-3 win at the Stadium of Light was our best away performance of the season, according to Jose Mourinho. Despite conceding three goals - all when set-pieces were not adequately cleared - we emerged victorious in the north-east, and the manager expressed delight at his side's performance.
An early Jozy Altidore goal put the hosts a goal up early on but we replied courtesy of a Frank Lampard header and an excellent individual goal from Eden Hazard. That half-time lead was cancelled out just minutes into the second half when John O'Shea levelled from a Sunderland corner, but more Hazard brilliance restored our advantage.
A late brace of Phil Bardsley goals, one at either end, set up a tense finale but the Blues held on for a valuable away victory.
Mourinho had words of praise for the star man of the evening, Eden Hazard…
'It was his best performance playing for me. We know about the talent, but for the first time under me he showed ambition from the first to the last minute,' Mourinho said.
'He has great talent but sometimes he can disappear from games. Today, he was fantastic - getting the ball, attacking defenders, shooting. Him, (Juan) Mata and Willian were creative and dynamic. They gave to the team what they needed in terms of creation.'
In his overall assessment of a frantic game, Mourinho couldn't fail to hide his delight at the performance, even if it was far from perfect defensively…
'We played a phenomenal game, our best game away from home. There was top quality, great creativity in the three attacking players behind Fernando and beautiful goals. Even the fourth goal was a great counter-attack.
'The game is about that, but it's also about basic things, and we failed in those basic things.
'The most basic is to defend set-plays. In a game where we should win clearly because of the way we played, we had a risk until the last second.'
Mourinho was also complementary about tonight's opposition, now managed by Gus Poyet…
'Sunderland are a good team - good football, good spirit, amazing crowd. They are fast with the wingers coming inside. I knew that it was going to be difficult. But when you play so well you have to win comfortably and not give a headache to the manager.
'This league is a league where any result can happen. Every point you get you should take with both hands.'
It was Gus Poyet's first home defeat since taking over at the Stadium of Light in October, and our former midfielder was also effusive when asked about Hazard, following a fiercely-contested game…
'Chelsea had to work very hard today to take the three points, and that makes me very proud.
'Hazard was unplayable. I don't remember a player performing at this level against me as a manager. We tried everything. We needed another football.'