The match reports
The Observer, Jason Mellor: “Another uncomfortable evening at his local restaurant awaits for Fernando Torres, after the out-of-sorts Spaniard was perhaps given a glimpse of Chelsea’s future that will have made for less than pleasant viewing. Torres, now with one goal in 22 appearances for the club, was dropped to the substitutes’ bench, and the decision by André Villas-Boas to discard the club’s £50m record signing was fully vindicated, as Daniel Sturridge scored a sublime goal. His strike, added to John Terry’s opener, gave the visitors their seventh consecutive victory at the Stadium of Light, against a Sunderland team who remain without a victory this season and who have lost eight of their last nine games at home.”
The Sunday Telegraph, Luke Edwards: “A comfortable away win and a crucial second goal from the striker brought in to replace Fernando Torres, things could not have worked out much better for André Villas-Boas at Sunderland. The decision to drop Torres would either make Chelsea’s new manager look very brave or very foolish. Daniel Sturridge ensured it was the former.”
The Independent on Sunday, Simon Hart: “Andre Villas-Boas showed he is not afraid to make tough decisions by dropping Fernando Torres for this match, and Chelsea’s Portuguese coach was rewarded with his side’s best display of his reign. Although it was Nicolas Anelka who replaced Torres in the central striking role, the decisive contribution came from Daniel Sturridge. Playing wide right, he marked his first Chelsea League start in 18 months by setting up John Terry’s opener and scoring the second with a cute backheeled finish, six minutes after the break.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The Blues made it three wins in a row thanks to a deflected shot by John Terry and a special goal by Daniel Sturridge, but on a ground where we have a good record but find it hard to keep a clean sheet, our grip on the game slipped a little and Sunderland pulled one back in stoppage time at the end. There was still plenty to be pleased about. The tempo of the play was good, Juan Mata much to do with that, and Raul Meireles especially impressed on his debut as he brought a freshness and good use of the ball to the anchor midfield role.”
Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, John Terry, Raul Meireles, Ramires, Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka (Oriol Romeu, 79), Daniel Sturridge (Florent Malouda, 62), Juan Mata (Fernando Torres, 74)
The managers’ reaction
Andre Villas-Boas: “Today it went very well for us in terms of what we want to achieve. Not that we haven’t tried to do it before but it just didn’t happen in the other three games.
“Fortunately today we were able to do the passing which relates more to the way we train and the team played very well.
“The goal of course is avoidable but we can only say that Chelsea deserved to win. We were very consistent in the first-half and I am happy with everybody.
“The result in the first-half fell a little bit short, we could have gone into the dressing room with a better result but again we managed to score early in the second-half to take three important points.
“Tiredness still plays a big part when coming back from an international week for a team like us.
“Normally when they go we get left with three or four players to train and when the others come back most of them come back with two games in their legs.
“We had three players on the pitch who played 180 minutes [while on international duty] and coming back from international week is always difficult.
“It would be normal for the level of the game to slow down a little bit in the second-half. Not only because of Sunderland but because of our tiredness and the comfort of a 2-0 result means mentally you slow the game a little bit.”
Steve Bruce: “Chelsea were excellent today and they played the ball fantastically well – that’s why they play at the level they do.
“They frustrated us with the possession they had, however, we did have some good chances but on the day we have to admit that Chelsea were that bit better than us.
“In the first half there was that wonderful delivery from [Sebastian] Larsson and Nicklas [Bendtner] got a free header, that would have been a fantastic start for us but it wasn’t to be.
“From there we had a couple of good chances to get back in the game – even with all of the possession that they had – but at times some of their football was breathtaking.
“We found it very difficult to be chasing the ball all afternoon, which you have to do with Chelsea.
“Overall we stuck at it.
“We did have a late flurry and on another day we might have nicked something, but we do have to hold our hands up and say we were beaten by the better team.
“It was nice for Ji Dong-won to get his first goal for the club, it’s a shame it didn’t come 10 or 15 minutes earlier when there was a bit of impetus from us but it wasn’t to be.”