Sunderland 2 Chelsea 3

Last updated : 24 May 2009 By Footymad Previewer
Sunderland went down to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.

However, by the final whistle the result was of little matter as the Black Cats' bitter rivals Newcastle United had already been condemned to relegation by Aston Villa.

The Sunderland players waited on the pitch at the end of the game to hear of results from elsewhere.

And as news filtered through that the Magpies had gone down 1-0 at Villa Park, Wearside went into party mood.

One man who wasn't over celebrating though was manager Ricky Sbragia, who announced his resignation as Black Cats boss with immediate effect.

Still that didn't dampen celebrations and there was no sign of the fact that the hosts had lost this game or that relegation had ever been a worry.

Sunderland held their own in the opening half of the encounter getting men behind the ball in a bid to stifle the visitors' attacking impetus.

As a result, the Blues were restricted to only a couple of chances in the first half with Michael Essien heading into the side-netting on four minutes and Didier Drogba firing over the bar with eight minutes played.

The Wearsiders weren't without chances of their own with Grant Leadbitter firing narrowly wide from 20 yards out.

As play went on it became clear that people among the home fans weren't only focused on the play out on the field.

First a cheer went up as news came through that Manchester United were 1-0 up against Hull City and then came an even bigger cheer as it was revealed that Newcastle were trailing at Villa Park.

There were moments after the half-time interval as Chelsea took the lead through a Nicolas Anelka wonder strike on 47 minutes.

However, the hosts refused to let their heads drop and were rewarded with a leveller six minutes later.

Leadbitter did well to get his cross in from the left and Petr Cech came off his line but connected with striker Kenwyne Jones instead of the ball.

The ball dropped to Kieran Richardson, who made no mistake firing into the net from close range.

Chelsea almost went back in front a couple of minutes later but Marton Fulop got down to save from Michael Ballack.

However, the Blues did find the net again on 74 minutes. The ball came out to Salomon Kalou and the striker curled a superb strike into the net.

Things got worse for the home side on 85 minutes as Ashley Cole netted following a goalmouth scramble which wasn't cleared.

Still the Black Cats refused to give up and Jones met Andy Reid's cross on 90 minutes to reduce the deficit.

It wasn't enough to stop the Wearsiders from going down to yet another defeat, but there wont be too many of the Sunderland faithful worrying bout that after their side's top-flight status was guaranteed for another season thanks to the demise of their rivals Newcastle.