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Saturday, August 7, 1999 Published at 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK

Chelsea open season in style

Gianfranco Zola skips over a challenge from Sunderland's Kevin Ball

Chelsea 4-0 Sunderland

Chelsea made the perfect start to their title bid with a 4-0 demolition of Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.

In a game dominated almost entirely by the Blues, the home side could have made it even more thanks to a flurry of chances.

The man of the match was midfielder Gustavo Poyet, whose double strike was completed by a memorable volley to seal victory in a totally one-sided encounter.

However, he was ably supported by Sunderland's chief tormentor, fellow goalscorer Gianfranco Zola, and new signing Didier Deschamps, while substitute Tore Andre Flo hit Chelsea's other goal.

Poyet gave Chelsea the lead after 20 minutes, heading Dennis Wise's corner past keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Zola then skipped past Steve Bould to fire home a second.

Just as Sunderland were tempting to claw their way back into the match, they were punished by the home side in a vintage three-minute spell of attacking flair.

First Dan Petrescu played a one-two with Zola before crossing for the unmarked Flo to head home just a few minutes after coming on a substitute.

Then Poyet scored the goal of the game as he capitalised on Zola's vision by thundering home a first-time volley after the Italian had chipped the ball into his path.

There was still enough time for Flo to head just wide and for Thomas Sorensen to make an inspired diving save to deny another substitute, Roberto Di Matteo, before Sunderland's misery was ended by the final whistle.


Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Le Saux, Petrescu, Wise, Deschamps, Poyet, Sutton, Zola. Subs: Babayaro, Hogh, Hitchcock, Di Matteo, Flo.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Makin, Bould, Butler, Gray, Summerbee, Ball, Rae, Lumsden, Quinn, Phillips. Subs: Helmer, Dichio, Marriott, Fredgaard, McCann. Referee: M Riley (Leeds)

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