Goal-scoring hero Frank Lampard came to Chelsea's rescue once again, nabbing the only goal of the game against pluckY Sunderland at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
Lampard hit his 181st goal for the Blues but I doubt he knew much about it. The midfielder was simply in the way as Fernando Torres's blistering scissor-kick volley smashed off the crossbar into the gleeful path of Lampard who tucked home smartly.
Sunderland are a much different side to the one that capitulated 1-2 to the Blues earlier in the season, and new boss Martin O'Neil knows how to set his team out to frustrate the opposition.
Sunderland had the first chance of the game on four minutes, Stephane Sessegnon skipped past John Terry in the Blues penalty area before cutting the ball across the six-yard box.
Luckily for Chelsea, Jose Bosingwa was able to distract Nicklas Bendtner sufficiently before the striker dispatched the ball.
A ninth-minute free-kick by Sebastian Larsson was perfectly arrowed towards goal, forcing Petr Cech to punch the ball clear.
A weak glancing header from Fernando Torres on 11 minutes which went wide of Simon Mignolet's goal was the home side's first effort of note..
The second a minute later resulted in the opener. Wide on the right, Bosingwa sent over brilliant cross, which, Torres on the six-yard apex spectacularly scissor-kicked towards goal.
The ball smashed off Mignolet's crossbar and ricocheted off the body of Frank Lampard, standing just in front goal and he tucked the ball home. That was Lampard's 11th goal of the season making him Chelsea' s top scorer so far this season.
The visitors responded when Nicklas Bendtner got in front of David Luiz on 16 minutes and headed towards goal, forcing Cech into a smart save. Mignolet was called into action on 26 minutes and produced a 'Hollywood' of a save from
Juan Mata's accurate but hardly goal-threatening 25-yard free kick.
A fine multi-player build-up by the Blues on 30 minutes saw Torres, who started it, almost finish it off with a header but the ball, past Mignolet, was hacked off the line by John O'Shea.
Bendtner almost levelled for Sunderland with 10 minutes of the half but his low drive, from just outside the Chelsea area, screwed wide of Cech's right post.
Torres, desperate to add to his paltry five goal return since his £50m move from Liverpool, was unlucky with his first-time turn and shot, from the edge of the area, like Bendtner's before, the ball inched wide of goal.
A clash of heads with Torres on 41 minutes resulted in Michael Turner replacing luckless Matthew Kilgallon.
A flashing shot by Sessegnon two minutes after the break signalled Sunderland's intent on scoring as soon as possible.
Thankfully, on this occasion, Cech got his body behind the effort.
Torres replied in kind on 52 minutes and saw his right-footed effort tipped round the post for a corner.
The Blues should have doubled their lead on 56 minutes when a Lampard-inspired move resulted in Ashley Cole sending in a trademark byline cross which Mignolet fumbled, Ramires, however failed to react quick enough to tuck home from close range.
Referee Philip Dowd then refused a penalty apiece two minutes later when first Torres appeared to be upended by Turn and then Cole bundled over Bendtner.
Sunderland missed a gilt-edged chance on 62 minutes, when James McClean miscued his volley when the Chelsea goal was gaping following Sebastian Larsson's run which had cut Chelsea's rearguard to shreds.
Torres was bizarrely booked by Dowd for diving, when on 66 minutes, the Spain forward cut into the Sunderland area. Phillip Bardsley's knee connected with Torres's leg and he went down.
Michael Essien entered the fray for the Blues on 73 minutes replacing Lampard. It was the first time Ghana midfielder Essien had put on a Blue shirt since he injured his knee in the first training session of this season where he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
A sublime chip from 20 yards by Raul Meireles with four minutes remaining saw Mignolet tip the effort over the bar as the blues tried to seal victory.
Yet it was the visitors who really should have scored on 90 minutes when Sessegnon, again the architect on the right, setting up sub Craig Gardener, who sliced his right-footer just wide of Cech's left post.
Deep into extra time, Bendtner skied over from cross range as the Blues held out for here vital three pints. Teams: Cech, Cole, Luiz, Romeu, Ramires, Lampard, Torres, Mata, Meireles, Bosingwa, Terrt, Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Malouda, Lukaku, Sturridge, Hutchinson, Bertrand Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Cattermole, Larsson, Richardson, Kilgallon, Vaughan, O'Shea, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner subs: Westwood, Turner, Gardner, Wickham, Dong-Won. Meyler, Elmohamady