Blues mauled by Black Cats in extra time

Posted by Mark Worrall

Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty ImagesJose Mourinho's Chelsea will need to shake off Tuesday's Capital One Cup defeat to Sunderland before Monday's massive Arsenal clash.

Chelsea are out of this season's Capital One Cup competition at the quarterfinal stage following a disappointing extra time 2-1 defeat at Sunderland. Despite taking the lead through a Lee Cattermole own-goal early in the second half, the Blues were made to pay for failing to capitalise on the lion's share of possession they enjoyed when Fabio Borini equalised two minutes from time. Borini's goal buoyed the Black Cats, and Ki Sung-Yeung fired home an unlikely winner at the death for the Premier League’s basement club.

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The Wearside Riviera might be an inhospitable and icy cold place at this time of the year, but it didn't stop almost 3,000 Chelsea supporters from traveling to the Stadium of Light hoping to cheer their team on to victory. With the London club generously laying on subsidised travel from the capital, it mattered not a jot to the vociferous followers of the Blues who made the 486-mile, round-trip journey that they would have to take a day off work to get involved and face the prospect of not arriving home until dawn.

Sunderland fans, it seems, were less enthusiastic about the whole occasion. Maybe the Black Cats reaching the quarterfinals of the League Cup is no big deal to them. Perhaps they thought that Sunderland, currently rooted to the foot of the Premier League, would have no chance of winning against high-flying Chelsea. Whatever the case may be, given the fact that these two sides recently played out a seven-goal thriller on this very ground -- and also the reduced price of admission -- it was disappointing to see rows upon rows of empty red seats. Without the once-removed, once-famous "Roker Roar" behind them, Sunderland’s players had to rely on their own resolve to give Chelsea a game. Bizarrely, despite chasing shadows for long periods of the match, they managed to do just that.

Jose Mourinho's starting lineup contained just one surprise: Cesar Azpilicueta commenced the game playing in his natural position of right-back with Ashley Cole restored on the left. As expected, Petr Cech and John Terry were given the night off with Mark Schwarzer deputising under the bar and Gary Cahill replacing Terry to partner with David Luiz in central defence. John Obi Mikel was assigned the defensive midfield role with Frank Lampard, while Willian, Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne were tasked with supporting Mourinho's striker of choice for the night, Samuel Eto'o, in his latest quest to score.

If the first half was largely forgettable, with the sides level at the breather, the second period provided several talking points, to say nothing of a couple of goals. With Chelsea dominating possession throughout the initial 45 minutes, it was clear that in his interval message to his troops, the Blues boss would have been calling upon his men to deliver. A call to action was answered within a couple of minutes of the restart when Azplilicueta delivered a fabulous cross from wide on the right into the Sunderland 5-yard box to find an advancing Lampard pressuring Black Cats own-goal specialist Cattermole whom, in a tangle of legs, bundled the ball over his own line to give Chelsea the lead.

As has been typical of the Blues' play this season, swathes of possession and wonderful tippy-tappy football yielded nothing for the remainder of the second period, which was notable for two things:

1. A streaker from among the Spartan crowd of 20,731 invading the pitch, entertainingly swerving the attentions of the stewards before being arrested and thereby further reducing the attendance by one.

2. Sunderland forcing a late equaliser when former Chelsea player Borini, on as a substitute for Adam Johnson, nutmegged Luiz at the near post and drilled the ball into the net.

1-1 … Extra time.

Having made use of all his substitutes prior to Sunderland leveling the tie, with Michael Essien replacing the injured Azpilicueta in the 70th minute, Demba Ba coming on for the ineffective Eto'o in the 74th minute and Eden Hazard trading places with Schurrle in the 83rd minute, Mourinho was shorn of options to change Chelsea's approach to the game.

While the first period of extra time was dominated by the Blues, who continued to demonstrate the profligacy that has frustrated both manager and supporters alike for the course of the season thus far, the second half belonged to the Black Cats. Sensing the opportunity that was somehow lost on their missing fans, Sunderland's players, encouraged by gesticulating manager Gus Poyet, grew in confidence. Battling to the end, with scarcely a couple of minutes left, substitute Ki Sung-Yeung scored what has to be viewed as a deserved winner when coolly firing home Borini's beautifully weighted pass.

Sunderland it is who progress to the semifinals of the League Cup following a character-building performance that deserved a better home audience, while Chelsea and their loyal followers return to London wondering how they contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Mourinho will be ready with his excuses -- but these will ring "we've heard it all before" hollow for the growing band of impatient supporters beginning to wonder if the Special One has lost his magic touch.

Next Monday, the eyes of the football world will be on the Emirates, when Arsenal and Chelsea collide in a top-of-the-table Premier League clash. Victory for the Blues will see the sorry defeat to Sunderland forgotten and Mourinho feted a hero, but, until then, probing questions about the rhyme and reason of the Stamford Bridge outfit's stuttering season will continue to be asked.

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