Chelsea's Terry celebrates his goal during a thrilling match
By Saj Chowdhury
Chelsea kept in touch with Premier League leaders Manchester United with a thrilling victory at Sunderland.
Phil Bardsley gave the home side the lead from 20 yards before Ashley Cole was fouled by Ahmed Elmohamady and Frank Lampard levelled from the spot.
Salomon Kalou slotted in to hand Chelsea the lead but Kieran Richardson restored parity with a low free-kick.
John Terry smashed in the Blues' third after the break before Nicolas Anelka nudged in during stoppage time.
The win meant that Chelsea remain 10 points adrift of pacesetters Manchester United and they increased the gap between themselves and fifth-placed Tottenham.
But the Stamford Bridge side were made to work hard for the three points during a contest which felt as exhausting to watch as it must have been to play in.
It was first blood to the Black Cats in the ding-dong clash when Bardsley, a right-footer playing on the left, collected the ball from just inside his own half and sped up to the edge of the area before launching an effort which appeared to confuse Petr Cech in goal.
The Blues, without new big-money signings Fernando Torres and David Luiz, relied on their old guard to dig them out of an early hole.
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Anelka had a shot blocked by Anton Ferdinand and Lampard fizzed an angled shot wide before Chelsea finally equalised.
The goal came from the penalty spot after Elmohamady climbed over Cole as they fought to get to Michael Essien's dinked delivery. Lampard stepped up to fire in his fifth of the campaign.
Chelsea seized the moment and ratcheted up the pressure on the Black Cats' defence.
Midway through the half they took the lead when Bardsley did his best to divert the loose ball into the path of a team-mate but instead found Anelka who played in Kalou. The Ivorian, who scored after coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Everton at the weekend, got to the ball before the fast-approaching Craig Gordon and poked in.
The lead lasted fractionally longer than three minutes. Elmohamady partially atoned for his earlier misdemeanour by winning the free-kick which led to Richardson's fizzing shot which left Cech, once again, rooted to the spot.
Any fears the viewing public had of a slower-paced second half were gloriously dismissed within the first few minutes of the restart.
But rather than the end-to-end action of the first half, much of the entertainment took place in the Sunderland third.
The Blues had missed Lampard's influence and goals during the first period of the season but it was the England midfielder who led the Blues charge.
He stung Gordon's palms on no fewer than four occasions - and it was the third of these which led to another Chelsea goal.
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Drogba's corner was headed out by Terry and brilliantly volleyed back in by Lampard. The Sunderland keeper could only push the ball back to Terry, whose volley bounced into the ground before looping over the 6ft 4in Scot.
There were still 20 minutes remaining but the pace refused to relent. Kalou should have scored his second of the night after he was released by Anelka but his side-foot effort from inside the area struck both posts before spinning away from the goalmouth.
With 10 minutes left, the players finally began to run out of steam.
Sunderland brought on midfielders Jack Colback and Jordan Cook to add some freshness to the side but it was their wilting defence that suffered at the end.
Chelsea substitute Florent Malouda marauded down the left, beat two challenges and pulled the ball back for Anelka, who cheekily nudged in his side's fourth.
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