Premier League - Chelsea hammer Sunderland
Chelsea avenged November's defeat by Sunderland with a 4-2 Premier League win over the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light.
An exciting first-half saw Phil Bardsley open the scoring for Sunderland after just four minutes before Frank Lampard's penalty and a goal from Salomon Kalou overturned the deficit. Kieran Richardson then scored a free-kick to draw the home side level before the half-hour mark.
Chelsea captain John Terry then struck on the hour mark to regain the lead, with Nicolas Anelka adding a fourth in injury time.
The victory pulls the champions within one point of third-placed Manchester City, who play on Wednesday, although they remain 10 points off the top of the table due to leaders Manchester United beating Aston Villa.
Neither of Chelsea's big-money signings made on deadline day - Fernando Torres and David Luiz - were eligible to feature less than 24 hours after completing their respective moves to Stamford Bridge. Sunderland could only give a debut to one of their new recruits - Stephane Sessegnon - while Sulley Muntari is still awaiting a visa and work permit.
Sunderland's 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge back in November kicked off an awful winter run for the champions which has seen them drop some way off the pace at the top of the table, and it looked as though Sunderland were going to claim their first league double over the Blues in a decade when they went ahead after just four minutes.
After grabbing the winner against Aston Villa last month, Bardsley scored only the third league goal of his career when he was given all the time he needed to roam forward down the left flank, cut inside and fire a low shot past Petr Cech and into the far corner.
Lampard then took his chance to net only his fifth goal of an injury-disrupted season from 12 yards after Ahmed Al-Muhamadi was judged to have obstructed Ashley Cole in the box on 15 minutes.
Chelsea, buoyed by that leveller, took the lead soon afterwards when a swift counter saw Anelka play through Kalou - promoted to the starting line-up at the expense of Florent Malouda - and the Ivorian waited for Craig Gordon to come rushing off his line before knocking the ball past the Scottish keeper and it trickled into the empty net.
The lead lasted just three minutes, however, when Al-Muhamadi's surge forward from the right resulted in a foul on the Egyptian by Branislav Ivanovic. Richardson, who scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Blackpool in Sunderland's last match, hit his free-kick low under the Chelsea wall and inside the near post, leaving Cech rooted to the spot.
After that Chelsea really began to assert their dominance in their hosts, with Gordon making a strong-wristed save from Michael Essien before Ivanovic crashed a shot off the crossbar.
After the break it was much the same, and a Chelsea third seemed inevitable as Gordon was tested by Lampard from range.
It duly came when Lampard had a solid strike from outside the box saved after a corner had been cleared, but the rebound fell for Terry to hit a strike into the ground and loop over Gordon's outstretched arm.
Lampard continued to pepper Gordon's goal with strikes while Kalou somehow managed to hit both posts after a wonderful run from Anelka had put him through.
Anelka played a much more central and deeper role than he would usually do with Didier Drogba - who had a quiet game - also in the side and he was highly influential, especially in the second half as Sunderland wilted under the constant pressure.
The Frenchman got the goal he richly deserved close to the end when substitute Malouda hustled his way to the byline and pulled the ball back - Anelka steering clinically into the far corner.
A sixth straight win on Wearside was secured, and Torres and Luiz can look forward to entering a team in resurgent form.