Smiles back at the bridge

Pedro (hidden) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the second goal for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Pedro (hidden) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the second goal for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.PHOTO: REUTERS

Chelsea begin life after Mourinho with comfortable victory over Sunderland


Chelsea 3

Sunderland 1

LONDON • Chelsea appointed Guus Hiddink as their caretaker manager on a day when the Dutchman watched the London football side beat Sunderland 3-1 in the English Premier League.

Before yesterday's match at Stamford Bridge, Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce had wondered how the home side's fans and players would react as they adapted to life after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

He found out that early as Mourinho's name reverberated loudly across the London stadium at kick-off.

His side were pegged back 2-0 within 13 minutes as Chelsea's XI played with a zest that was noticeably lacking during Mourinho's final weeks in charge of the London club.

Branislav Ivanovic's name was one of those - along with Diego Costa's and Cesc Fabregas' - that were booed in the build-up.



    Everton 2 Leicester 3

    Manchester United 1 Norwich 2

    Chelsea 3 Sunderland 1

    Southampton0Tottenham 2

    Stoke 1 Crystal Palace 2

    West Brom 1 Bournemouth 2

    Newcastle v Aston Villa

    Late kick-off

But it was cheered after five minutes when the defender gave Chelsea the lead, powering home a header from Willian's corner.

It was just the start Blues owner Roman Abramovich, watching from the stands with former club stalwart Didier Drogba, would have wanted after a testing few days.

Eight minutes later Chelsea deservedly were 2-0 up.

Ivanovic this time was the provider, firing the ball into the box and Pedro pouncing and lashing the ball into the roof of the net.

The home side then totally dominated the half, making life comfortable for Steve Holland, the man in charge for this match.

Five minutes after the re-start, Chelsea were 3-0 up as Willian was nudged over by Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon inside the box as he chased a Pedro ball. Oscar rolled the ball into the net from the penalty spot.

From then on, for a spell of 15 minutes, Chelsea's players sat back, allowing Sunderland space and to have a few cracks at goal.

The visitors pull a goal back in the 53rd minute when a cross from the left was palmed by Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into the path of substitute Fabio Borini, who bundled in from close range .

In the last 20 minutes, Chelsea looked more like the side who had struggled this season, and were fortunate not to see their winning margin further reduced .

"Looking at this (the scoreline), it's clear the players just weren't playing for Jose. They were unprofessional," observed former Manchester City defender Danny Mills.

After taking over yesterday, Hiddink said: "Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world but is not where it should be at the moment. However, I am sure we can all turn this season around."

The match summed up a night of drama in the league as Manchester United fell 1-2 to Norwich City to pile further pressure on manager Louis van Gaal.

At Goodison Park, Riyad Mahrez scored two penalties as Leicester City edged out Everton 3-2 to remain top of the table.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Smiles back at the bridge'. Print Edition | Subscribe