Chelsea down Sunderland
SUNDERLAND, England (AP) A first-half strike by captain John Terry and a remarkable back-heeled goal from Daniel Sturridge guided Chelsea to a 2-1 victory over Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.
Terry fired Chelsea into an 18th-minute lead at the Stadium of Light following a free kick by Juan Mata, and Sturridge added the second goal six minutes after the restart with a cheeky effort which crept over the line.
South Korea forward Ji Dong-won pulled a goal back for Sunderland in stoppage time, but the strike came too late for the home side.
With 10 points from four games, the victory kept Chelsea up with the league pacesetters.
Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner made his Sunderland debut as the side's former striker Asamoah Gyan secured a season-long loan move to United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain. There was a first appearance for Chelsea for Raul Meireles and a return from injury for Petr Cech, but Spain forward Fernando Torres had to make do with a seat on the bench with the substitutes.
Chelsea applied plenty of early pressure through Juan Mata and Ramires, but it was Sunderland who had the first real chance when Bendtner got his head to Sebastian Larsson's swinging free kick and glanced the ball just wide, with Cech rooted to the spot.
Chelsea took the lead, though, after Mata's free kick came back off the post. The ball was fed to Terry, whose initial shot was blocked, but Phil Bardsley could only help the defender's follow-up into the roof of the net.
Chelsea were starting to ease into top gear and went close to a second goal with 25 minutes played.
Jose Bosingwa and Sturridge staged a swift counter-attack down the left to allow Mata to play the ball into the path of Nicolas Anelka, whose first-time shot flew just past the post.
The Frenchman had no better luck minutes later when Meireles' stinging shot was blocked by Titus Bramble and keeper Simon Mignolet came off his line to deny Anelka as he latched on to the loose ball.
Sunderland returned in more determined mood after the break but soon fell even further behind when Meireles' fine ball over the top allowed Sturridge to get in behind Wes Brown, and the striker did well to stay on his feet as the defender desperately tried to get back at him.
But with Mignolet coming from his line to narrow the angle, Sturridge sent the ball towards goal with an outrageous back-heeled shot which crept in at the foot of the post despite Brown's best efforts to keep it out.
Sunderland refused to give up and Bendtner might have opened his account with 65 minutes gone when the ball fell to him six yards (meters) out as Branislav Ivanovic made a mess of cutting out Jack Colback's left-wing cross. However, by the time the Dane had got the ball on to his right-foot, Terry was on hand to block.
Sunderland finally got some reward for its afternoon's work when Ji replaced Stephane Sessegnon with eight minutes remaining, and made his mark in stoppage time when he side-footed home his first goal for the club.